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7 months ago
Five years after fighting first erupted in Darfur between Sudanese Government forces and rebel groups, the world has still not found a durable solution to the suffering of millions of people in the region, the United Nations humanitarian chief told the Security Council today, warning the situation will only deteriorate unless urgent measures are taken.
John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, told a Council meeting that he was saddened and angry to inform them that the situation inside Darfur had only worsened in the past 12 months, despite the efforts of the international community.
"We continue to see the goalposts receding, to the point where peace in Darfur seems further away today than ever," he said in a statement. "Further progress in the deployment of UNAMID [the hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping force], equipped to protect civilians and improve security, will help.
"But only an end to all violence and concrete steps towards a political settlement will make the fundamental difference needed, as the rebel movements themselves above all need to recognize. Otherwise the reality is that the people of Darfur face a continued steady deterioration of their conditions of life and their chances of lasting recovery."
The Sudanese government and rebels in the country's Darfur region have signed security and humanitarian agreements in Nigeria after two weeks of talks, the press officer for Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo has said.
More than 1.5 million people have been forced from their homes because of fighting in Darfur, creating what the United Nations has termed the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The government abandoned its objection to a no-fly zone in the area to make the security agreement happen.
The agreement moves the government closer to disarming the brutal Janjaweed militias, and it calls on both sides to allow monitors to observe the cease-fire.
Barack Obama declined to condemn Jimmy Carter Wednesday for Carter’s decision to meet with Hamas but said he supports diplomacy with Iran because it has recognized status internationally.
In a meeting with Jewish community leaders in Philadelphia, the Democratic presidential candidate stopped short of condemning the meeting between the former U.S. president and the designated terror group. However, he said direct talks with the Islamic Republic have practical benefits that are in Israel’s interest.
“Hamas is not a state. Hamas is a terrorist organization,” Obama said, explaining the distinction.
Former president Jimmy Carter plans to meet next week in Damascus with Khaled Meshal, the head of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, in a direct rebuke of the Bush administration's campaign to isolate it.
The disclosure of Carter's plans by the Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat and subsequent confirmation by sources familiar with his itinerary instantly placed the campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in a political bind.
The campaign of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican nominee, was quick to blast Carter's plans and called on both Obama and Clinton to condemn the meeting with what the State Department lists as a terrorist group.
Both Clinton and Obama issued statements with milder language, saying they "disagreed" or did "not agree" with Carter's plans.
Carter's views of the Middle East attracted controversy last year because a book he wrote included tough criticism of Israel's policies. Indeed, a source close to Carter said that the former president favors Obama but that he has decided not to endorse Obama publicly or formally because he fears it would contribute to hostility toward Obama among Jewish Democrats.
A suspected Tamil Tiger suicide attacker bombed the opening ceremony of a marathon outside Sri Lanka's capital, killing a powerful government minister, a former Olympian and 12 others, the military said. Nearly 100 were wounded.
The bombing, the second this year to kill a senior government official, showed while the rebels might be on the defensive against a military onslaught on their heartland in the north, they retained the ability to launch devastating attacks deep in government territory.
The rebels have fought since 1983 for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils after decades of marginalisation by governments run by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed.
Scores of runners and onlookers gathered at the starting line of the marathon in Weliweriya, about 12 miles, from Colombo, part of the national celebration of the upcoming Sinhalese New Year.