May 9, 2006

UN’s Egeland seeks Sudanese help on Darfur aid

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland
met Sudanese government officials on Tuesday to ask them to
make it easier for aid workers to help refugees in Darfur.

Days after a peace deal was signed between the Sudanese
government and the main Darfuri rebel faction, Egeland said he
would ask Khartoum to ease travel restrictions and bureaucracy
which have hampered aid workers in the past.

"The humanitarian operation is unsustainable ... and we are
here to work together with the government but they have to help
us help their people," he told Reuters.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than
two million forced to flee their homes in Darfur, in western
Sudan, since rebels took up arms in 2003, triggering a revenge
campaign of rape, looting and killing.

The United States has called the killings genocide, a term
rejected by Khartoum.

There are more than 13,000 aid workers in Darfur, one of
the largest operations in the world. But food rations to
millions were cut in half in May because of funding shortages.

Egeland said this cut would last until October, as donor
nations had pledged money too late to stockpile food ahead of
the rainy season from May to September when Darfur's dirt roads
become impassable.

Egeland, who met Humanitarian Affairs Minister Kosti
Manyebi, said he wanted the government and rebel groups to work
toward reconciliation now a peace deal had been signed.

"My message to the elders in the camps, the government and
the guerrillas: they have to calm things down and they have to
do their utmost for reconciliation."

On Monday, hopes the peace deal might ease the situation in
Darfur were shaken by an outburst of violence when thousands of
Darfuris attacked an aid worker during a visit there by

They then ran riot and beat to death a Sudanese translator
working for the 7,000-strong African Union force monitoring a
shaky ceasefire.

Egeland said after the incident that the violence showed
how much Darfur had become a powder keg.

The mostly non-Arab Darfur rebels accuse the Arab-dominated
Khartoum government of neglect and two smaller rebel factions
have refused to sign the peace deal.

This has raised fears of divisions on the ground between
the supporters of the different rebel factions.