Home | News    Thursday 20 May 2004

Situation in Sudan’s Darfur may deteriorate, official says

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NEW YORK, May 20, 2004 (dpa) — The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, Thursday warned that more Sudanese may seek to cross the border with Chad unless the humanitarian situation in Sudan’s western Darfur region is improved.

Lubbers said an estimated 1 million Sudanese have been displaced by fighting and human rights violations in Sudan. Positive political developments in southern Sudan may convince the 600,000 people who fled across borders with neighbouring countries to return to Sudan.

But he said the situation in the Darfur region was deteriorating and more Sudanese may seek to flee into Chad. He called the humanitarian situation on both sides of the border "appalling."

"The international aid community may be quickly overwhelmed and there is the potential for destabilization of the sub (African) region," Lubbers told the U.N. Security Council in an open session.

He said there were increasing news reports of armed elements near the border areas inside Chad and there were "strong indications" that Sudanese Janjaweed militias and other Sudanese rebel groups were operating in the border areas.

Lubbers appeared before the 15-nation council to report on the situation of refugees around the world. The Dutch-born official was accused of sexual harassment by a U.N. staff, which he denied. The charge is being investigated by a U.N. oversight office.

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