The Sudanese government has banned Jan Egeland, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, from visiting the Darfur region. Mr. Egeland had planned to visit U-N relief operations. "My interpretation," said Mr. Egeland, is that Sudanese authorities "don't want me to see what I was planning to witness in south and west Darfur, which is renewed attacks on the civilian population."
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says that preventing Mr. Egeland from visiting Darfur is "disturbing":
"The fact of the matter is innocent people continue to die in Darfur as a result of violence and as a result of disease and malnourishment that is a consequence of the violence. So there is a crying humanitarian need to address in Darfur, and that's why it's so hard to understand why a government would refuse to allow a senior U-N official responsible for providing relief to a region to help its own citizens."
Fighting broke out in Darfur in 2003 after rebels complained that the region has been marginalized by the central government. Rebels affiliated with the Sudanese Liberation Movement, and the Justice and Equality Movement attacked Sudanese government facilities. Supported by the Sudanese government, Janjaweed Arab militia responded by launching attacks on civilians from Sudan's African Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa groups in Darfur.
In July 2005, the Sudanese government and the rebel groups agreed on a declaration of principles, calling for an end to hostilities, the guarantee of tribal ownership land in Darfur, and increased autonomy. But there has been an upsurge in violence. According to the U-N, in a three-year period, more than one-hundred-eighty-thousand people in Darfur have been killed and two million others live in refugee camps. A U-N enquiry found that both sides have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, but mostly by Sudanese government and militia forces.
State Department spokesman Ereli says that keeping a U-N official out sends "the wrong signal about where the government of Sudan stands on the issue of humanitarian relief and cooperation."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.