WORLD / Africa

UN Council hears pleas and threats in Darfur
Updated: 2006-06-10 17:04

The U.N. Security Council heard strong opposition on Friday to a robust United Nations force in Darfur and was told a recent peace pact had stoked violence within squalid camps for homeless war victims.

One tribal leader even threatened a jihad, or holy war, if non-African troops came to Sudan's vast western region and the governor of North Darfur made clear his resistance to U.N. peacekeepers.

"The peace agreement divided the camps into two. Antagonizing those who haven't signed the peace agreement has not helped," Jan Pronk, the top U.N. envoy in Sudan warned the 15 council members visiting Sudan for the first time.

The council, which authorizes peacekeeping missions, called off its planned trip to the Abu Shouk camp near this North Darfur town because of security risks.

Instead the 15 members met more than a dozen representatives from the camps behind closed doors as well as relief workers, government and tribal leaders who told them heartbreaking stories but also criticized the visitors.

"It brought home to people why one had to do this," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, head of the U.N. delegation, said of U.N involvement in Darfur, noting the cries for humanitarian help in a region where only some 30 percent of the children attended school.

On May 5, the government and the largest rebel group in Darfur signed a peace agreement, negotiated by the African Union, but two other factions refused to sign.

While the door is left open for other factions to sign, the rebels have been fighting each other instead of the government, creating more mayhem in Darfur, where at least 200,000 people have died and more than 2 million are homeless.
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