Friday, October 21, 2005

The Last Weeks of Darfur?

The Coalition for Darfur emailed members with this Reuters AlertNet: "World has just weeks to save Darfur, says UNHCR"

The world has just weeks to help restore peace in Sudan's Darfur region or risk watching it slide back into civil war with repercussions for the whole region, U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said on Friday.

A patchy ceasefire was falling apart as the two main rebel groups began to disintegrate, an African Union (AU) peace force was hopelessly undermanned, under-equipped and under-funded and the world appeared to have lost interest, he said.

"Everything is getting out of control. This is happening on both sides," Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told Reuters. "The crucial moment is from now to the end of the year."

"We are close to a moment in which a new major tragedy might occur in Darfur," he added at the launch of a DVD of a concert last December to raise money for refugees from the strife-torn region the size of France.

"It would have a major impact on the neighbours ... and on the whole African region."

The United Nations says at least two million Sudanese have been turned into refugees in their own country by 2 1/2 years of fighting between rebels, the Sudanese army and Arab militias known as Janjaweed, believed to be backed by Khartoum.

Another 200,000 have been forced to flee to camps in neighbouring Chad.

Rape, murder and robbery are rampant, and food is scarce despite the efforts of aid agencies.

A sixth round of faltering peace talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja was adjourned until November on Thursday. Since mid-September scant headway has been made.