Thu, Jul 15, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Red Cross, Red Crescent help Darfur


The head of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies visited Darfur and pledged to provide aid to victims in a conflict that has killed up to 30,000 people and driven 1 million from their homes.

Juan Manuel Suarez del Toro, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, met with Sudanese Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Ibrahim Hamid on Tuesday.

He was the latest of a series of top diplomats and officials to speak to the Khartoum government about stricken Darfur province in the country's west.

Del Toro said his organization was prepared to give all the aid required to Darfur's people, adding that stability in the province would help stabilize the region.

The world and the Sudanese government must cooperate to settle the conflict, he said.

Darfur has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN. A rebellion by the inhabitants of African origin led to a counter-insurgency by government troops and pro-government Arab militia.

Aid and rights groups accuse the Khartoum government of backing the Arab militia that have carried out looting, destruction and ethnic evictions. The government has denied the charge.

In visits earlier this month, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the government must rein in the militia and allow people to return to their homes.

On Monday, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned the government that the Darfur conflict must be resolved before it could expect further aid from his country and the EU.

Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir has promised to disarm all militiamen.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Naguib al-Kheir Abdel Wahab said after a meeting with del Toro that the government would do all it can to ease the situation in Darfur and fulfill its commitments to the international community.

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