UN chief warns of increasing Darfur threats

UN chief warns of increa

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said peacekeepers in Darfur are facing increasing threats from fighting in the vast western province and along the Chad-Sudan border, and from a spate of kidnappings. In a report to the UN Security Council circulated Monday, the UN chief also criticized the failure of rebel groups in Darfur to unify their positions and start serious discussions with the government to resolve the 6 1/2-year conflict. He said the joint United Nations-African Union force has made significant strides toward full deployment - with 14,638 of its authorized 19,555 military contingent on the ground at the end of October - and is now, "more than ever," focusing on its critical tasks of protecting civilians and facilitating the delivery of food and other humanitarian aid. But Ban said there are still "serious challenges" and "increased threats." He cited ongoing fighting between Sudanese government forces and rebels which put civilian lives at risk and demonstrate "that the parties have not made a full commitment to a political solution to the Darfur crisis."