Saturday, August 20, 2005

The displaced people in South Darfur have written a letter to the UN here in Sudan: they are asking the international community to ensure that Darfur's peace talks, which have been making painfully slow progress over the past few months, are not delayed again this month.

Peace talks were scheduled to resume next week, on August 24th. But since one of the main rebel groups, the SLA (Sudan Liberation Army), are stalling for more time to iron out internal differences, it now looks as if the next round of talks might be just as meaningless to the people on the ground as the last few.

The United Nations Mission in Sudan - particularly UN boss Jan Pronk - continue to hail the "positive steps" and "beautiful words" reached at past negotiations, but somehow I'm not quite sure I would agree that a mark of their success is that "nobody walked away".

And with even Pronk now admitting that the next round of talks may be a small, quick affair and that no "big" decisions are likely to be reached before November, I'm not quite sure what exactly he will be telling the people of Darfur in his reply to their letter. "We know your houses are filling up with water, your children are getting sick, your food is running out and occasional bullets still whizz past your heads - but do us a favour and just sit tight for a little longer until the rebels manage to reconcile their egos?" I'll make sure I get a copy if there is a reply...

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