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Sudan proclaims major security improvements in Darfur

5/18/2005 10:28pm

NAIROBI, May 18, 2005 (PANA) -- Sudan's humanitarian affairs minister Ibrahim Mohamoud Hamid said here Wednesday that the security situation and humanitarian access in the restive region of Darfur has drastically improved despite the United Nations branding it as the world's most serious current humanitarian crisis.

"The security situation is better...and it's not our own evaluation, it's also the evaluation of the UN and the international community.

"The movements of humanitarian assistance to the people are now better and we have moved in the areas of tribal reconciliation to ease tension among the different tribes," the minister said.

"Most of the attacks on humanitarian workers are from the rebels and it was once stated during our joint meeting with the UN that rebels are responsible for the attacks. This is why the tribal leaders asked the rebels not to attack, not only the convoys but all the movements," Hamid told reporters in Nairobi Wednesday.

He said the government has stepped up measures to maintain security for the citizens, disarm the outlaws, ensure flow of humanitarian aid and was currently working for realising comprehensive political solution to the Darfur problems with the participation of all parties.

"We have agreed to stop fighting in Darfur and come to the political negotiations. We do not think the relief efforts are that serious, the rebels are under pressure to stop attacks on humanitarian convoys," Hamid reiterated during an interview conducted at the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi.

He said all parties engaged in the two-year old fighting have committed themselves to cease-fire and reconciliation efforts were underway to bring them to the negotiating table.

Sudanese authorities have been accused of impending relief work in Darfur, and limiting the free movement of relief workers by introducing restrictive visas for foreigners.

But authorities now say the government has set up a post-conflict policy to ease humanitarian work in the troubled region to ensure unhindered relief flow to more than one million displace people in Darfur region, western Sudan.

"On political solutions, we have agreed that all political parties go to Abuja for negotiations and we are waiting for the Africa Union to fix the date for this meeting to take place," Hamid said.

He blamed recent attacks on aid workers on rebels, saying that efforts were underway by tribal leaders to exert pressure on them to observe the cease-fire.

The minister said the humanitarian policy was part of Sudan's efforts to streamline humanitarian aid and a response to complaints of delays and lack of full co-operation from the government in Khartoum.

Hamid, who was in Nairobi to attend a two-day meeting with UN aid agencies and ex-rebel leaders in the South, expressed optimism that peace was now returning to Sudan and appealed to those who are still fighting to lay down their weapons.

"There is a lot of pressure on the rebels not to attack the aid workers and to commit themselves to the cease-fire. They are also being pushed to go for peace now not fighting and those who are still doing so will be left out," he said.

Meanwhile, financing of humanitarian operations for Darfur is better than the rest of the country, the minister said.

"It takes about 60 percent while the rest of the Sudan including Southern Sudan is about 25 percent. We also have more than 70 international aid organisations which have more than 8,000 staff, so we don't think we have problems in resources or capacity to deliver relief to Darfur," Hamid assured.

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