Sudan Annan appalled by attack on displaced persons camp in Darfur region

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which sent a team to the Aro Sharow camp after the attack, reportedly by 250 to 300 armed Arab men on horses and camels, said today the death toll there and in nearby villages had risen to 34.Many of the 4,000 to 5,000 camp residents, who initially fled to nearby mountains and surrounding countryside when the attackers swooped into the camp, killing residents and burning down their makeshift shelters, had now returned, UNHCR added.In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Annan voiced alarm at the recent escalation in violence in Darfur, where fighting between the Government, allied militias and rebels has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 2 million since early 2003.”The Secretary-General strongly condemns the attacks on civilians, humanitarian workers and assets, and the African Union (AU) Mission in Sudan, and deplores the many casualties. He is concerned about the additional suffering and displacement these attacks have caused to the civilian populations,” the statement said.”The Secretary-General emphasizes the need to immediately halt the attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice. He urges all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid any further escalation.”In the meantime, the parties must apply themselves fully at the sixth round of the Abuja talks to bring an end to the suffering of the people of Darfur,” it added, referring to talks in the Nigerian capital.”The Secretary-General calls upon the Government of Sudan to protect its civilians and to continue its efforts in bringing stability and fostering national reconciliation in the country,” it concluded.The statement was the latest in a recent series of expressions of alarm by UN officials over the deteriorating security situation in Darfur. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland on Wednesday said the situation had become dangerous enough that relief agencies had temporarily suspended operations in some areas.Also on Wednesday, the Security Council called on all parties to negotiate in good faith with a view to reaching a peace agreement by the end of 2005. read more