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Chronology : Major events in Sudan’s Darfur crisis

KHARTOUM, July 2, 2004 (Xinhua) — As a humanitarian crisis in the Sudan’s western Darfur region escalates into a major disaster, the international community is pressing for dialogue to avoid “another Rwanda.” The following are the major events in the Darfur conflict.

February 2003 — A revolt against the Arab-dominated Sudanese government breaks out among indigenous ethnic minorities in Darfur. Pro-government Arab militias there now are blamed for a wave of killings of indigenous groups.

More than 10,000 people have reportedly died in the region and more than a million others been driven from their homes since then.

Sept. 3, 2003 — The Sudanese government and rebels from the Darfur region reach a truce for six weeks.

The pact on cease-fire is signed in the city of Abeche, Chad, by Sudanese General Essmat Abdel Rahman Zenelabdin, commander of the western region, and Abdullah al-Bakr, on behalf of the Sudan Liberation Movement

The two parties reach the agreement after indirect talks hosted by Chadian President Idriss Deby in Abeche, 300 km from the Sudanese border. Feb. 9, 2004 — Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir announces that major military operations that the Sudanese Armed Forces carry out against the rebellion in Darfur are over.

“The armed forces have crushed the rebellion in the (Darfur) region and were in full control of the situation there,” Bashir says in a statement.

The statement says the Armed Forces will be vigilant and on the alert to fend off any armed action in defense of properties and public order.

Meanwhile, the president proclaims general amnesty provided that rebels surrender their weapons to police within a month.

April 8, 2004 — The Sudanese government and Darfur rebels reach a cease-fire agreement, defusing a year-long security crisis in the restive region and opening the door for badly needed humanitarian aids.

May 24, 2004 — The Sudanese government announces that it will allow aid workers to have special permits to enter the troubled Darfur, opening the door for international humanitarian aid workers.

May 28, 2004 — The Sudanese government and the two main rebel groups fighting in Darfur sign an agreement on the modalities for the establishment of the cease-fire commission and the deployment of international observers in the region.

June 25, 2004 — The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announces that it has launched an operation in Darfur in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

“We opened a regional office in El Geneina on Tuesday that will serve as a base for our teams to help assist thousands of displaced persons in the region,” UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis tells reporters.

June 29, 2004 — Sudan announces measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, in response to the US threat of imposing sanctions.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail tells a press conference jointly held with visiting US Secretary of State Colin Powell that Khartoum will dispatch more troops to provide security in Darfur, loosen controls over humanitarian aids and engage rebel groups with swift negotiations.

July 1, 2004 — UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, visiting Darfur, urges the Sudanese government to bring under control the Janjawid militia.

Annan holds talks with Sudanese Interior Minister Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein and North Darfur state Governor Mohammed Osman Kibir.

During the talks, Annan urges the Sudanese government to contain the Janjawid and “not fighting side by side with them.”

“The UN is prepared to work with you on the humanitarian front to ensure that we do not have a humanitarian disaster,” Annan says. July 1, 2004 — A senior African Union (AU) official says that AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare will join world mediators tasked with solving the Darfur crisis.

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