UN chief urges quick action to end suffering in Darfur

Four years after the UN Security Council first took up the issue of Darfur, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday the conflict may be worse and the suffering of more than 4 million civilians continues, especially the violence against women and girls. Ban said the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force now being deployed in Darfur "can only be effective when there is a peace to keep." He urged the Sudanese government, rebel groups and other interested party to immediately focus on what can be done to end the hostilities, protect civilians and start negotiations. Recalling the Security Council's first meeting on Darfur in April 2004, the secretary-general said "the situation remains grim today, as then, if not worse."