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UN Envoy Raises New Alarm Over Southern Darfur


The UN special envoy to Sudan, Jan Eliasson, briefed the Security Council Tuesday on the situation in Darfur. As VOA correspondent Barbara Schoetzau reports from New York, the former General Assembly president voiced new concerns about fighting in the south.

Eliasson says there are positive developments in northern Darfur, namely the cessation of aerial bombings since February 11 and fewer rebel attacks on government sites. But he expressed concern about a growing problem in the south.

"In the south you have a new problem cropping up which has to do with tribal warfare, which has less to do with government and the non-signatories to the peace agreement," he explained.

Eliasson says he is also concerned about reports that the government-backed janjaweed militias are gathering.

The Swedish diplomat is charged with moving the political process forward in Sudan, but he says even if he succeeds there will still be a need for peacekeepers.

"In the positive scenario that you have a process forward to a political solution, then with the mistrust and the years of fighting that has been going on, the deep underlying suspicions, I would say that there is a need for a monitoring capacity of some magnitude and a way of making sure that possible agreement in the end will last," he added.

UN diplomats are waiting for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to formally respond to a request to allow a hybrid peacekeeping operation of UN and African Union troops into Darfur. This week, the United States has sent a special representative to pressure Mr. Bashir to let the international force in.

Meanwhile, the newly released US State Department's annual human rights survey says abuses in Darfur last year were the world's worst. Earlier this week, the European Union called on the United Nations to tighten sanctions on Sudan.

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