06/08/2004

Sudan pledges to disarm militias within 30 days

UN and Sudanese officials have signed an agreement committing Khartoum to take "detailed steps" in the next 30 days to disarm the militias responsible for deadly attacks in the Darfur region, improve security for the 1.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and alleviate the humanitarian crisis

The text of the deal between Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, and Sudan's foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail must now be approved by the Sudanese Cabinet.

Mr Pronk voiced hope that if this happens and the agreement is implemented, the Security Council would see Khartoum was making "substantial progress" and decide not to take further action against Sudan.

In a resolution adopted last Friday, the Council said it would consider measures - including economic sanctions - if the Sudanese government did not make progress on commitments to disarm the Janjaweed militias and restore security in Darfur.

Mr Pronk and Mr Ismail reached the deal on Wednesday during the second meeting of the Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM), a body set up by the UN and Sudan to keep watch on the commitments, which were set out in a joint communiqué adopted on 3 July.

In addition to the 1.2 million Sudanese displaced by the conflict, 200,000 have fled to neighbouring Chad because of the militia attacks against civilians and the fighting between Sudanese Government forces and two Darfur rebel groups.

In South Darfur, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that heavy tribal fighting near Ed Daein had displaced about 1,000 families, while there have also been reports of bandit attacks near the provincial centre of Nyala.

In West Darfur, Sudanese officials said they will relocate IDPs at Garsilla to six separate sites, each one staffed by 100 police.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced that in July, it had distributed food to 941,000 IDPs in Darfur.

(gmcg)

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