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UN Warns Sudan to Act Swiftly on Darfur or Face Consequences - 2004-07-07


The U.N. Security Council has warned Sudan to immediately begin implementing an agreement with Secretary General Kofi Annan issued during his visit Saturday or face serious consequences, including sanctions.

The agreement calls for the Sudanese government to resume the political process in Darfur "as soon as possible, "to disarm the Janjaweed militia and provide relief groups with unrestricted access to internally displaced persons."

In a closed-door videoconference from Kenya with members of the Security Council, Mr. Annan told the Council to keep up the pressure to make sure the agreement is implemented as soon as possible.

Mostly black Africans have been terrorized and forced from their homes by the Arab militias in what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Aid workers say the condition of 1.2 million displaced people in the Darfur region is grave.

U.N. Emergency Relief coordinator Jan Egeland, who accompanied Mr. Annan on his visit to Darfur, also participated in the meeting. As a result of the agreement, he said aid workers have access to Darfur for the first time, but he described assistance efforts as a logistical nightmare. Mr. Egeland said the ability of humanitarian groups to help the internally displaced people will depend on whether or not pledges from the international community are fulfilled.

"We have now for the first time since this crisis started last year access to the internally displaced people," he said. "We will either be able to feed 1.2 million people, provide them with water and sanitation and health care or we will fail, because we do not have security or enough funding. It would be ironic now when we have access that we would not be able to save lives because we only have 40 percent of what we asked for."

The Security Council has called on a group of experts to examine a U.S draft resolution imposing sanctions on the Janjaweed.

The United States' new U.N. Ambassador, John Danforth, served as a special U.S. envoy to Sudan. He says Sudan must take action within days.

"We are talking about days, we are talking about this week," he said. "This is a matter of urgency. Really want we wonder is whether the government of Sudan is just using more words, more promises with the view that delay means more death and that what is means. The terms of draft are important. We are willing to discuss it. But the real question is what is Sudan willing to do?"

Several members of the Security Council want to delay action to see what action the Sudanese government takes to disarm the militias. But the majority appears to favor imposing sanctions if the agreement negotiated with Mr. Annan Saturday is not implemented within days.

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