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UN Delegation Arrives in Darfur

A delegation from the United Nations Security Council has arrived in Darfur for talks with local government leaders. The visit comes in the wake of increased violence in Darfur, as rebel factions now fight for control of the region. The U.N. hopes to replace the struggling African Union mission with its own peacekeepers, but Sudan remains wary of UN intervention. For VOA, Noel King has more from Al Fashir.

Local leaders from northern Darfur have threatened that the arrival of a United Nations protection force in the region may lead to violent reprisals against U.N. peacekeepers.

Fifteen members of the United Nations Security Council arrived in Darfur on Friday, as part of a high-profile visit aimed at persuading Sudan to accept U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur.

The Security Council delegation met first with the governor of north Darfur State, Osman Yousef Kibir.

Following the meeting, Ali Tango, a local council member told VOA he expects there may be violence if peacekeepers enter.

"The people here, most of them are Muslims," he said. "They don't want international intervention here because they are adding more complications to the local traditions here. They hardly accepted the AU to be in north Darfur. They don't want any foreigner to come in here. Look at Afghanistan and Iraq, how it deteriorated."

Delegates are attempting to reassure Sudan that the United Nations will not enter the nation by force.

A unanimous Security Council resolution passed in May, gave Sudan one week to allow the U.N. to enter, or face penalties.

The embattled nation only dug in its heels, insisting that the U.N. will not enter unless it is invited.

Talk of U.N. intervention has sparked rioting in Khartoum, with government officials comparing intervention here to that in Iraq and Vietnam.

Sudan is under intense pressure to allow a U.N. mission to replace the African Union force, which has struggled with budget constraints.

The AU on Wednesday said it would agree to hand over its mission to the U.N., following the approval of the Sudan government.

Security Council delegates also met with representatives from some 2 million displaced Darfuris who are eking out a tenuous existence in refugee camps.

Humanitarian workers told the delegates that security in the camps has deteriorated since the May 5 signing of a peace agreement between the government of Sudan and one rebel faction.

The three-year conflict began when rebels attacked government positions in the remote region, complaining Darfur remained undeveloped due to political and economic marginalization.

Sudan is charged with arming Arab militias to crush the rebellion, resulting in a campaign of rape and murder in which tens of thousands have died and some two million more have been displaced.