Home | News    Sunday 12 December 2004

Sudan needs international help in Darfur, Egyptian leader says


By SALAH NASRAWI, Associated Press Writer

CAIRO, Dec 12, 2004 (AP) — Egypt said Sunday that Sudan is working to solve the crisis in Darfur but needed more international assistance, not criticism.

Hosni Mubarak

Following talks between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Sudanese leader Omar el-Bashir, Mubarak’s spokesman urged the international community to redouble its efforts to end the crisis.

"The Sudanese government is doing its best to ease the humanitarian crisis in Sudan," Maged Abdel Fattah said. "But Sudan does not have enough resources. This needs a lot of finance."

"The international community should do more to help the Sudanese government instead of only criticizing the Sudanese government," he said.

Nearly two years of fighting in Sudan’s western Darfur region has killed tens of thousands and left nearly 2 million homeless.

On Saturday, government negotiators resumed talks with representatives of the Darfur rebel groups in Abuja, Nigeria.

Foreign ministers of Sudan’s neighboring countries are opening talks later Sunday in Cairo to discuss the Darfur crisis with Sudan’s Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail, who is accompanying el-Bashir in Egypt.

Leaders of Egypt, Chad, Nigeria and Libya met with el-Bashir in Tripoli last month in a bid to solve what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis without sanctions.

One topic on the agenda for Sunday’s meeting is a proposal that the neighbors create a committee to mediate between the Khartoum government and the rebels in Darfur.

Disease and famine have killed 70,000 in Darfur since March, the World Health Organization said. There is no official reckoning of the overall toll of the war, which was sparked in February 2003 when two non-Arab African rebel groups took up arms to fight for more power and resources.

The Sudanese government responded by backing a militia known as the Janjaweed, which are now accused of targeting civilians in a campaign of murder, rape and arson.

Abdel Fattah praised Khartoum for what he described as efforts to bring the militia under control.

The talks in Abuja focus on reviewing past interim agreements, with power and wealth sharing and disarmament among the final goals for peace.

An earlier round of talks in November produced accords on humanitarian access to the war-displaced in Darfur and in neighboring Chad, bringing new pledges of an end to hostilities.

Abdel Fattah said Mubarak and el-Bashir also reviewed progress in the peace talks between the Khartoum government and the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army under way in Kenya, agreeing that a deal could be signed before the end of the year.

Sudan’s southern civil war erupted in 1983 when rebels from the mainly animist and Christian south took up arms against the predominantly Muslim and Arab north. More than 2 million people died in Africa’s longest-running conflict, mainly through war-induced famine, but fighting has slowed since the warring parties began peace talks in July 2002.

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