Home | News    Wednesday 28 January 2009

USA demands end to Darfur bombings

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January 27, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – The United States of America today condemned bombings carried out by Sudanese air forces in several areas of Darfur and demanded that they cease.

The statement threatened no specific actions in response to the air assaults. Rebels say that government warplanes and helicopters destroyed parts of the town of Muhajeria in South Darfur, killing civilians, and the international aid group Doctors Without Borders said its base in the town was burned to the ground.

Air assaults carried out in North Darfur reportedly harmed no civilians, said peacekeepers monitoring the region.

“The United States condemns the military activity carried out by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in North and South Darfur since January 22, as well as the incursion by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) into Muhajaria and other areas of South Darfur, which resulted in an increase of violence over the last week,” said the official spokesman of the U.S. State Department, Robert Wood.

Fighting in Darfur, while typical during the dry season periods ever since the insurgency began in the region nearly six years ago, has renewed this month with particular vigor as JEM rebels targeted areas held by a government ally, ex-rebel Minni Minawi, as well as the main city of the region’s northern state, El Fasher. Government aircraft bombed extensively in a bid to retake Muhajaria and defend El Fasher from a rebel probe.

The rebel ranks are filled mostly with Darfurians, some 300,000 of whom were killed and 3 million displaced by an extensive counter-insurgency campaign, according to UN figures.

Wood stated forcefully that the bombings are illegal: “This fighting and subsequent Government of Sudan bombing campaigns have reportedly resulted in the deaths, injuries and displacements of civilians. The bombing campaigns in particular are a violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, of the Government of Sudan-initiated ceasefire, and of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Darfur.”

The spokesman added, “We demand that all parties to the conflict, including rebel movements, cease all violence and provocations in Darfur immediately, and commit to the peace process under the leadership of Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Yipènè Bassolé,” who is a UN-African Union envoy tasked with mediating between the warring parties.

The U.S. is a member of the Security Council, which passed the resolutions banning offensive air operations over Darfur. According to UN monitoring reports and evidence of rebel-downed helicopters, Sudan has violated the resolutions for years.

Members of the new elected Obama administration previously have voiced support for using U.S. military aircraft to prevent Sudanese air force from making attacks in Darfur. During her confirmation hearing before the Senate, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned the possibility of a no-fly zone over Darfur. "We are putting together the options that we think are available and workable. It is done in conjunction, as you would assume, with the Department of Defense," said Clinton.

(ST)

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