4 Years On, Darfur Conflict Lingers On

Four years since the Darfur conflict erupted, violence and hunger continue to ravage the western Sudanese region, claiming more innocent lives while the world stood helpless.

4 Years On, Darfur Conflict Lingers On

"Four years is far too much ... The fact that this goes on is a disgrace," said UN peace envoy Jan Eliasson during a recent visit to Khartoum with his African Union (AU) counterpart, Salim Ahmed Salim, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Friday, February 23.

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003 and has killed up to 200,000 people and displaced two million people.

The Sudanese government and the main rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLA), signed an AU-mediated peace deal in May to end the bloody conflict.

However, the peace deal has never really been implemented with violence escalating day in and day out as other rebel groups refused to sign up to the peace deal.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Friday blamed both the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels for the raging violence in the troubled region.

"It is a context of very gross violations of international humanitarian law, with a main responsibility on the government side, but not only on the government side. There have also been gross violations on the side of armed groups," said ICRC head Jakob Kellenberger.

He warned that the growing insecurity in the conflict-stricken region jeopardized aid operations in Darfur.

The ICRC deploys 160 expatriates and 1,800 Sudanese staff in western Sudan.

The UN and other aid agencies are running the world's largest relief operation in Darfur, with a budget of one billion dollars and around 130,000 workers operating in an increasingly dangerous environment.

Cash-strapped

The AU has deployed around 7,000 military observers in April 2004 to try to keep peace in Darfur.

But the under-equipped and cash-strapped contingent has failed to make an impact in more than two years

"The AU is crippled by "dire financial difficulties," said its Khartoum-based spokesman Nureddin Mezni, adding that salaries had not been paid for months.

"The December and January salaries should be paid soon," he told AFP.

The spokesman stressed that incidents such as the theft of 90 AU vehicles in 30 months also contributed to the pan-African mission's bankruptcy.

The African force survives on a drip feed of Western funds, with the Canadians providing helicopters, the Americans offering supplies, the British paying salaries and Scandinavian countries financing police stations in refugee camps.

Led by the United States, Western countries have upped pressures on Khartoum to deploy UN troops in Darfur under UN resolution 1706 to take over from the AU force.

But Khartoum has adamantly opposed the UN troop deployment, saying it could worsen the situation in Darfur and turn the country into a second Iraq.

Absent Arabs

The Arab countries have also been absent from playing any role in halting violence in the troubled region.

"We need to see Arab League countries that haven't paid their contribution finally fulfill their promises," Mezni said.

"This will help our force accomplish its task on the ground in better conditions."

Last week, the Arab League, whose members include oil-rich Gulf countries, admitted that only 10 percent of a 150-million-dollar-pledge made a year ago had been paid out.

The lack of regional support for the AU force comes even as many Arab countries are opposed to the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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