UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called Friday for new international action to halt violence in Darfur in a report released which highlighted the failure of negotiations and deteriorating security in the Sudanese region.
Six months after the Sudanese government promised to make efforts to end attacks on the Darfur population by pro-government militias, Annan said: "The armed groups are re-arming and the conflict is spreading outside Darfur."
"Large quantities of arms have been carried into Darfur in defiance of the Security Council decision taken in July. A build-up of arms and intensification of violence, including air attacks, suggest the security situation is deteriorating."
Annan, who went to Sudan in July with US Secretary of State Colin Powell to negotiate with the government, has made repeated warnings in recent weeks that conditions were worsening in the region in the west of Sudan.
The UN's World Food Program suspended food aid to Darfur at the end of December after a rebel attack on one town triggered deadly clashes with government forces.
Since February 2003, Sudanese troops and their militia allies have been fighting rebel groups in Darfur, who have been demanding a greater share of oil revenues for development.
According to the UN, at least 70,000 people have been killed, mainly civilians, and about 1.6 million have fled their homes.
Annan said in his report for the UN Security Council that new rebel movements are emerging and launching attacks in the area of oil facilities in Western Kordofan.
"I am concerned that we may move into a period of intense violence unless swift action is taken," the UN secretary general warned.
"The pressures on the parties to abide by their commitments are not having a perceptible effect on the ground. This leads me to conclude that we need to reconsider what measures are required to achieve improves security and protection" for the Darfur homeless. The UN had considered Darfur to be the world's biggest humanitarian crisis before the Dec. 26 tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean.
Just four days earlier, Annan had urged the Security Council to consider a harder line on Darfur, while rejecting a US request that he visit Sudan again.
The US has sought sanctions against Sudan but this has been opposed on the Security Council. The US ambassador to the UN, John Danforth, a former US envoy on Sudan, expressed his frustration with the international community in December, saying "we're getting nowhere in Darfur."
Two UN resolutions made veiled threats of sanctions against Sudan.