UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Friday that the conditions in Sudan's war-torn western region of Darfur have worsened, four years after the UN Security Council first turned its attention on the ethnic conflict there. ( dpa )
"The situation remains grim today, as then, if not worse," Ban said in assessing the situation. "Violence targeting civilians, including women and girls, continues at alarming levels with no accountability, or end, in sight."
Of Darfur's population of 4.27 million, a total of 2.45 million people have been displaced by the fighting and continue to suffer from the conflict pitting black African rebel groups against Arab militias backed by the government in Khartoum. More than 300,000 people have died since the conflict erupted in 2003.
Ban in a statement said more than 100,000 Darfurians have been forced to flee the violence so far this year.
The fighting has also undermined the deployment of an ambitious 30,000-strong joint UN-African Union peacekeeping operation to Darfur, Ban said. Only about 9,000 peacekeepers, most of them Africans, are now in Darfur.
The humanitarian conditions have cost the international community close to 1 billion dollars a year in the past three years, with about 14,700 aid workers providing life-saving assistance to Darfurians.
The Security Council has adopted seven resolutions in the past four years trying to end the conflict. But Ban said the fighting and suffering of the people continue.
"I call upon all parties and stakeholders to immediately focus on the fundamental requirements for the protection of civilians and the establishment of sustainable peace and stability in Darfur," he said.
"Four years on, the conflict in Darfur persists at extreme and unacceptable levels," he said.