Sun, Oct 08, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Sudan rejects UN report on Darfur rights abuses

AP , UNITED NATIONS

A young girl washes her family's clothes in the North Darfur refugee camp of El Sallam on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

Sudan's UN ambassador accused the UN of using fabricated data from non-governmental groups in reporting widespread rights abuses in Darfur, though he acknowledged that violations have occurred in the region.

The ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, was largely dismissive of a report that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent to the UN Security Council on Monday saying that Sudan's armed forces, as well as rebel factions and the militias, continue to violate international human rights law with impunity. The report said violence was on the rise and humanitarian access in Darfur was at its worst since 2004.

"These reports are not new. Many of these reports are fabricated by some [non-governmental organizations] whose intentions are very clear to us," Abdalhaleem said on Friday.

"I can assure you that of course in any conflict situation, it is a very bad thing, you have violations of human rights, this is war," he said. "It is very bad, this is why we would like to have it over."

The UN denied the ambassador's claims. Oliver Ulich, Sudan team leader in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the UN has 1,500 mostly Sudanese staff in Darfur as well as dozens of human rights officers whom it relies upon for information.

He said the UN does receive information from non-governmental groups but believes that it is "highly reliable."

"We double and triple-check reports coming from a variety of sources and have a very high degree of confidence in the reliability of the information that we provide to the Security Council," Ulich said.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in three years of fighting between the government and rebels in Darfur. The violence has continued despite the presence of an African Union peacekeeping force meant to monitor a May peace deal, which has yet to be implemented.

Sudan has so far refused to allow the UN to take over and expand the African Union peacekeeping force despite the insistence of the Security Council. However, President Omar al-Bashir sent a letter to Annan on Thursday reiterating his stance that he would consent to the UN providing support to the African Union mission, as UN officials have proposed.

"The Secretary-General welcomes President Bashir's acceptance of this initiative," Annan spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Friday. "He very much hopes that the proposed support package can be implemented expeditiously."

That letter was separate from another note that Sudan sent to nations that may offer troops for a future UN peacekeeping force in Darfur. It warned that they would be committing a "hostile act" if they promise troops for that mission.

The US said Friday that Sudan had withdrawn the letter, though Abdalhaleem was more ambiguous. He insisted Sudan wants to avoid confrontation, but would not allow any troops into the country without the government's consent.

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