The deteriorating situation in Sudan’s Darfur region threatens regional stability and the world must step up efforts to help clinch a peace deal, the U.N. refugee agency said on Thursday.
Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, urged major powers, the Security Council and African Union to exert greater pressure on Khartoum and rebels to end the conflict.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million driven from their homes since a revolt began in early 2003 by non-Arab villagers who accused the Khartoum government of neglect and repression.
Situation still a ‘huge threat’ to the region
“It is not yet as dramatic as it was in 2003, but it is really becoming a huge threat,” Guterres told a news briefing.
“Everybody now needs to be deeply committed to make sure a peace agreement is reached in Darfur. Because if a peace agreement is not reached, I think very serious things can happen, not only in Darfur but in the whole region,” he added.
Darfur represented “the most pressing political and humanitarian problem we have in Africa today,” according to Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal.
Peace talks continue
The two Darfur rebel movements and Sudanese government are holding a seventh round of peace talks in the Nigerian capital, but remain deadlocked over power-sharing arrangements, according to negotiators in Abuja.
Separately, Chad has demanded that Sudan disarm Chadian rebels in Darfur as a condition for peace talks to end a growing dispute with Khartoum over rebel and militia raids in the border area.
Chad accuses Sudan of sheltering and backing Chadian rebels who attacked the border town of Adre last month. Sudan denies supporting the rebels.