UN urges ceasefire in West Darfur to help relief work

( dpa )- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called for an end of hostilities in West Darfur, which have hamper the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians displaced by the fighting.

"A negotiated settlement to the Darfur conflict cannot take place amid continuing violence and the massive displacement of civilians," Ban said in a statement in reaction to the wave of renewed violence at a camp for displaced people.

He said additional information showed the Sudanese government and militia forces are massing forces in the Jebel Mount in West Darfur, raising the possibility of continued fighting in the area.

"In addition to putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk, the ongoing violence significantly reduces the humanitarian community's access to those in need of live-saving assistance," he said.

The special envoy for Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, met with the UN Security Council for a progress report on the comprehensive peace agreement signed in 2005 between the Islamic government in Khartoum and the Christian rebels in the south. That agreement is separate from peace efforts in Darfur.

The north-south peace ended decades of warfare, while ethnic violence in Darfur since 2003 has killed more than 300,000 people and made more than 2 million refugees.

Qazi said, however, that the resolution of the north-south conflict can also help the conflict in Darfur, and failure on one side can affect the other. He deplored that attention has focused more on Darfur that the peace process in southern Sudan.

"Should the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement (north-south) succeed in bringing about a democratic transformation and making unity attractive to the people in southern Sudan, the prospects for an end to the humanitarian crisis and peaceful resolution of the conflict in Darfur will brighten," Qazi said.

Qazi said implementation of the north-south peace agreement has not been easy because of mistrust each side has for the other. But there has been progress since 2005. While the front lines between north and south have been mostly calm, ethnic clashes between farmers and herders have resulted in considerable loss of life and property.

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