Darfur Update

Over at Security Council Report, as Japan takes over the Presidency of the Council:

Key Recent Developments

The situation in Darfur remains dire, with more than 2.5 million people living in internally displaced person (IDP) camps dependent on humanitarian assistance. Attacks against aid workers and their property reached unprecedented levels in 2008. These attacks were mainly attributed to rebel movements, but many incidents also occurred in areas under government control.

UNAMID has now lost 22 personnel, including a peacekeeper that died on 29 December. Violence and ongoing clashes continues to limit UNAMID and humanitarian access to affected populations.

Despite the unilateral declaration of a ceasefire on 12 November by the Government of Sudan, bombing attacks against rebels continue. In his briefing to the Council on 19 December, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, said south and north Darfur had been bombed by the government in late November. After weeks of relative calm the Sudanese army bombed Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) positions in the Muhajeriya area of south Darfur on 13 January. Ground fighting between JEM forces and the government-backed faction of the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement led by Minni Minnawi (SLA/M) was also reported in the area, which hosts a civilian population of 30,000. On 18 January, JEM reportedly took full control of Muhajeriya, SLA/M’s former stronghold. Further government bombing was reported on 24 January. UNAMID reported 3,000 newly displaced as a result of the fighting. Clashes were also reported between the government and rebels on the outskirts of El Fasher in north Darfur on 26 January. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet briefed the Council on the two situations in closed consultations on 28 January. The Council condemned the increased military activities and called on all parties to cease hostilities. In addition to clashes between the government and rebels, inter-ethnic fighting in other parts of south Darfur has resulted in hundreds of deaths since early December and the displacement of thousands of civilians.