News and Information
Rebels abandon Darfur peace talks
|July 18, 2004
More than a million people have fled their homes in Darfur
Rebel groups from Darfur have left Addis Ababa, breaking off talks with the Sudanese government and ending hopes of an end to the conflict.
Talks between the warring parties from the western region of Darfur began last week in the Ethiopian capital.
Rebels say they will not compromise and blame the collapse on the government for refusing to meet conditions to end their insurgency.
These include the withdrawal of government forces from Darfur.
One of the two rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), also wants an international inquiry into charges of genocide against non-Arabs in Darfur.
These talks are now finished
The UN estimates that 30,000 people have died in more than a year of violence blamed on Arab militiamen.
More than a million people have been forced to flee their homes to escape the fighting.
"We're going back home because we have delivered the message of the people of Darfur," Jem co-ordinator Ahmed Tagod Lissan told the AFP news agency.
"We did not walk out. We consulted with mediators until the last minute."
But neither representatives from the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) nor Jem met Sudanese government delegates face-to-face during the talks mediated by the African Union.
Rebels say they will only do so when the government meets six conditions:
pro-government Janjaweed militia, accused of the worst atrocities, must be disarmed
An international enquiry must investigate charges of genocide
Those who commit genocide or ethnic cleansing must be brought to justice
Obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid must be removed
Prisoners of war must be released
Another venue must be found for future talks - they said Ethiopia was too close to the Sudan government.
The government says some of the conditions - on disarming the Janjaweed and improved humanitarian access - are being met, but there are reports that Janjaweed raids have intensified over the past week.
A lack of food in camps has prompted rioting
Hamid Algabid, a former prime minister of Nigeria who mediated the talks, said both the government and the rebels must honour an April ceasefire agreement if a lasting solution is to be found.
Mr Algabid said mediators would talk to both sides to try and set a new date for fresh talks.
"Without the leaders from both sides, we will not successfully start the peace talks. But this has to be prepared. This needs some time," Mr Algabid told Reuters.
The talks collapsed as reports emerged of a riot at a camp for Sudanese refugees on Friday.
A crowd at Bredjing camp attacked aid workers with rocks and knives, injuring two, one of them seriously.
The trouble erupted after the aid workers, short of supplies, refused requests for food
The UN has described Darfur as the world's worst humanitarian crisis - food, water and medicines are running low in the refugee camps.
Aid worker's diary
Access to the region is becoming more difficult as heavy rains make dirt roads impassable.
Some 170,000 refugees from Sudan have sought safety in neighbouring Chad, and many are camped along a 600km stretch of the border.
On Saturday officials from the Chadian government and the UN High Commission for Refugees began touring camps where rioting took place on Friday.
They went to camps located some 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the Sudanese border, which together house 50,000 people.
The United States has threatened to impose sanctions on Janjaweed leaders, which could be extended to the government, if the violence continues.
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