“Nothing Left to Burn”

(Middle East Times)A fragile calm has returned to Sudan ’s western Darfur , wracked by 15 months of war, but only because “there are no more villages to burn,” a UN official said this week. “Because there are no villages left to burn, the situation has calmed down,” said UN emergency relief officer Daniel Augstburger, who visited Darfur from April 28 to May 1. Since rebels in Darfur signed a ceasefire pact last month with the Khartoum government, systematic attacks on civilian populations in the north and south of the region have dropped off, but the far west has seen no change, he said. “Forced movements of populations have stopped to a certain extent,” said Augstburger, adding that “harassment of civilians was continuing,” especially incidents of gang rape. UN human rights chief Bertrand Ramcharan last week accused the Sudanese government of conducting a “reign of terror” and “repeated war crimes and crimes against humanity” by supporting militia and nomads who have been driving black Africans out of the region. An estimated 1 million people have been displaced inside the country, and a UN report has said the government was deliberately starving some of them. More than 100,000 others have fled across the border into Chad .

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