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UN Humanitarian Chief Nears End of Sudan, Chad, CAR Mission


The newly appointed U.N. humanitarian chief is completing his first visit to areas near Sudan affected by rebellions and cross-border fighting. John Holmes has advocated for a political solution to stabilize the area where the borders of Sudan, Chad and Central African Republic (CAR) meet. Humanitarian workers say living conditions in this region are deteriorating while leaders disagree about peacekeeping operations. Phuong Tran has more from VOA's West and Central African Bureau in Dakar.

John Holmes visited the lawless and mostly abandoned northeast of Central African Republic on Thursday to complete his 10-day mission to raise awareness about the cross-border raids, rebel fighting and military crackdowns in all three countries that have displaced close to half a million people.

Edouard Libeau, a humanitarian officer with the U.N. children's organization UNICEF in Central African Republic, says Holmes' visit was timely, given recent fighting.

"In northern areas, you have waves of violence with many villages burnt," he said. "You have waves of displacement. The displaced population is hiding in the bush usually three kilometers from their village."

Earlier this month, renewed rebel fighting in the northeast of Central African Republic emptied and burnt down most of the village Birao and surrounding villages.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes has said political solutions are necessary to halt the bloodshed.

Kingsley Amaning oversees humanitarian operations for U.N. agencies in Chad. He says refugees' lives are being hijacked as politicians argue with each other and the U.N. about who should guard their borders.

Chad and Sudan's presidents have each refused U.N. peacekeepers, saying they want to protect their own borders. Amaning says this refusal is one way the leaders are jockeying for power.

"Politics is about power play," he explained. "It is about sorting out sectarian interests, and these very often get into the way of the common good. We are more interested in making sure that people who are victimized by the power play are also heard."

The U.N.'s Amaning says refugees' lives have been hijacked by politicking and fighting between countries' leaders.

"They have been displaced people from their countries. Their family lives have been broken. Their community life has been serious hampered. And all this because we cannot find a political solution to a political problem," he added.

There is growing international concern that fighting in Sudan's Darfur region is spreading across the region.

Chad and Sudan's presidents have accused each other of supporting rebel movements in each other's countries, which both sides deny.

Rebels in all three countries are fighting for more power in their governments.

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