ABUJA, Aug 28 (AFP) — Sudanese government representatives and rebel leaders met on the humanitarian crisis in Darfur on Saturday ahead of the next full session of African Union peace talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
A separate humanitarian committee set up by the delegates gathered with AU and UN mediators to discuss a UN report on the situation in Darfur which accused the Sudanese government of intimidating refugees.
A fifth plenary session of all delegates to the talks was due to begin at 3.00pm (1400 GMT), officials said. The talks opened on Monday but took a one day break on Friday while the parties digested the UN paper.
According to the report, presented this week to delegates by the United Nations and seen by AFP, a total of 1,498,802 people have been left vulnerable by the Darfur’s 18-month-old conflict between government and rebel forces.
Most of those have been driven from their homes and displaced within Sudan, others have fled to neighbouring Chad or are living in their own villages in fear of attack or starvation as fighting rages on despite the talks.
“General insecurity persists with continuing violence by various armed groups, banditry and lawlessness,” in spite of an April 8 ceasefire accord, the report said.
The report said the government has improved access for humanitarian workers, but that it had failed to rein in its proxy militia, the Janjaweed, or to pull back from refugee camps, as demanded by the UN Security Council last month.
“There are clear indications that Khartoum security agents are systematically harassing and intimidating the internally displaced persons in a scheme aimed at forcing them out of camps,” it said.
“At nearly every IDP location in the area, Arab militias continue to patrol around camps — reports of rape, beatings, disapperances, and looting continue,” according to the UN report.
The United Nations has warned the Sudanese government that it faces sanctions if it fails disarm the Janjaweed and ensure the safety of refugees by Sunday. The Security Council will meet next week on the crisis.
For its part, Khartoum has dismissed the UN deadline and insisted that it will seek to resolve the crisis through the Abuja talks process, which may go on for many days or weeks to come.
The government is seeking the disarmament of the rebel groups.
The rebel groups represented in Abuja — the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement — say they will not stand down their forces until they win a full political settlement.
The rebels claim that the various black African minority groups in their region and other parts of Sudan are politically and economically excluded by the Arab elite which has ruled in Khartoum since independence in 1956.