UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council on Friday called on Darfur rebel groups to begin participating in peace talks, with a view to stopping escalating violence and ending the seven-year conflict in the western region of Sudan.
Using tough language in a resolution adopted unanimously, the council said it deplores "the fact that some rebel groups continue to refuse to join the political process."
The resolution extended the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur until July 31, 2011, and said the force should give priority to protecting civilians and ensuring that humanitarian workers can safely deliver aid.
Fighting in Darfur that began with a 2003 rebellion by groups who accused the government of neglecting the vast desert region has forced 2.7 million people to flee their homes, according to U.N. figures. Some 300,000 people are believed to have died.