AFRICA/SUDAN - Glimpse of peace for the crisis in Darfur. Government and guerrillas agree to protect 1.2 million refugees. But danger for humanitarian operators persist: Caritas worker injured

Thursday, 2 September 2004

Khartoum (Fides Service)- There are glimpses of hope for a solution to the crisis in Darfur. Late yesterday evening 1 September the government of Sudan and the rebels reached an agreement to protect more than 1.2 million displaced persons forced because of violence to abandon their villages and homes. This is the first result of talks started a week ago in Abuja (Nigeria) between representatives of the government and the two rebel movements operating in the region.
In the meantime the United Nations has declared that the government of Sudan failed to follow the recommendations of the UN security council which threatened sanctions unless the government took steps to stop the violence against civilians in Darfur by 30 August. “After 18 months of violence and 30 days since the approval of resolution 1555, the government of Sudan has not ended the crisis in Darfur nor has it respected commitments taken” said Koffi Annan UN Secretary. Despite the UN verdict the international community is showing prudence with regards to adopting immediate sanctions against Khartoum. US secretary of state Colin Powell, said it is too early to discuss possible sanctions but he added that “although we have seen some progress on the ground we must keep pressure on the Sudanese government”.
In the meantime 22 humanitarian workers taken hostage some days ago have been released. However these workers are still at risk: an operator of Caritas Internationalis was injured when a man shot at him as he started distributing food aid and medicines in a camp in the region. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2004 righe 27 parole 320)