Wed, Jul 28, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Sudan mutters about security, West to vote

DARFUR CRISIS The government insists it is making progress toward improving security and no outside intervention is needed, but the UN is preparing to act


Sudanese refugees cook a meal on Monday at the Farchana refugee camp in eastern Chad, where residents who fled the fighting in Darfur are sheltered. Aid agencies say seasonal heavy rains are hampering efforts to bring aid to some 180,000 refugees in Chad.


Sudan summoned senior British and German diplomats on Monday to protest against what it called threats to its national security, while a top aid worker warned the world must do more to stop refugees in Darfur dying.

Diplomats said the US was expected to call a UN vote this week intended to alleviate what UN officials describe as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

But China, Egypt, Pakistan and others object to threatening sanctions against Khartoum.

Sudan's State Minister for Foreign Relations Najeeb al-Kheir Abdul Wahab called in the British and German charges d'affaires separately, denouncing a statement by Britain's top military commander that he could muster 5,000 troops for Darfur.

"[Wahab] expressed the government's protest at the unfortunate comments made by General Mike Jackson, describing them as threatening to Sudanese national security and a violation of state sovereignty," said a government statement.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the world must act on Darfur and has not ruled out a British military role. Australia says it could send troops as UN peacekeepers.

At the meeting with the German diplomat, Wahab repeated previous Sudanese charges that Berlin was allowing rebels in Darfur to launch "hostile activities" from Germany.

Khartoum says it is making progress over security and aid in Darfur, where rebels accuse the government of backing Arab militias known as Janjaweed in an ethnic cleansing campaign against black Africans. The US Congress has branded it genocide.

The UN estimates some 30,000 people have been killed since fighting erupted last year.

Rowan Gillies, head of the international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, said the world was acting too slowly and half-heartedly to help what the UN estimates are 1.5 million displaced people.

"There is the potential for significant numbers of deaths due to malnutrition or epidemics in the refugee camps where conditions have hardly improved at all despite increased international attention," Gillies said.

He said that on a month-long trip he treated sick and dying children in camps for people driven from their homes.

Oxfam flew in water-purifying and sanitation equipment for a camp of 60,000 people in southern Darfur, only the British-based charity's third plane to reach the remote area.

Tens of thousands of refugees have fled to Chad, where relief help has also been limited.

The US-drafted Security Council resolution would put an immediate weapons embargo on militia and rebels in Darfur.

"I think it will go through by Thursday with the text pretty well unadjusted," British ambassador to the UN Emyr Jones Parry said.

Diplomats attending closed-door negotiations said however China, Pakistan and Algeria had called for more time for Sudan to implement promises made to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on protecting civilians.

Asked if the US would start to support initiatives for a foreign force, a State Department spokesman said: "We're not at that point yet."

EU foreign ministers called on the UN "to pass a resolution, with a view to taking further action, including imposing sanctions, in case the government of Sudan does not immediately fulfil its obligations."

Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said some 100 members of the Janjaweed had been arrested

"We are doing what is right," he said, and accused US politicians of speaking of "genocide" to woo black American votes for the US presidential election.

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