UN criticizes Darfur aid worker attacks
The U.N. humanitarian chief on Sunday criticized attacks on aid workers in Darfur and called on both the Sudanese government and rebel groups to do their part to stop them, AP reported.
"It is unacceptable that we have double the attacks on aid workers than we had this time last year," John Holmes said in a statement at the end of a six-day visit to Sudan.
Eleven aid workers have been killed in Darfur this year and 189 have been abducted, according to the United Nations.
Holmes said the Sudanese government has a responsibility to protect humanitarian workers in the country's western region. But he said Darfur rebels appear to be responsible for most of the attacks.
"I call on them to stop this kind of banditry and criminality once and for all," said Holmes.
The conflict in Darfur has pitted the Arab-led Khartoum government against mainly ethnic African rebels who rose up in 2003, complaining of discrimination. Khartoum is accused of unleashing Arab militias, who have waged a campaign of violence against ethnic African civilians, including killings and rapes.
U.N. officials say up to 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict and more than 2.5 million displaced. The government says the figures are exaggerated.
Holmes also urged the Sudanese government to improve cooperation with humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur by implementing easier visa procedures for their workers.