Straw: I sensed the fear among displaced

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The Independent Online

The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, told the President of Sudan last night that the Khartoum government must do more to provide security for civilians in Darfur before a UN deadline which expires at the end of the month.

The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, told the President of Sudan last night that the Khartoum government must do more to provide security for civilians in Darfur before a UN deadline which expires at the end of the month.

Mr Straw met the President, Lieutenant General Umar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, after visiting a camp in northern Darfur for people displaced by the ethnic cleansing that has left 1.4 million people homeless. "I spoke to many of the refugees in the camp and got from them a sense of their fear as a result both of what had happened to them and their families, and the killings they had witnessed, and their concern about whether or not they would be able to return to their homes," he said.

Relief agencies say that the arrival of African Union troops may help to alleviate the tensions that have left the black Africans in the camps fearful of returning to their villages, where Arab militias are still active.

But the Sudanese government is resisting any increase in the number of troops - the bulk of which are to be provided by Nigeria and Rwanda - from 300 to 2,000. The troops are being deployed to protect ceasefire monitors in Darfur, who are monitoring a truce which technically does not exist, and Britain has rejected changing their mandate to transform the contingent into a civilian protection force.

The Sudanese government has until 30 August to show progress in protecting civilians and disarming the militias or face sanctions.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office said a UN database suggesting that Britain had breached an EU-wide arms embargo against Sudan in 2001 and 2002 was inaccurate.

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