Sudanese police attacked refugees at a camp in Darfur in front of UN staff yesterday, wounding hundreds. The security forces fired tear-gas at women and children queuing at a clinic, and bulldozed homes.
The attack came hours before the UN's special envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, was due to visit the El-Geer camp near Nyala. It was the fourth such incident at the camp in the past 10 days. Last week police forcibly moved thousands of refugees to the nearby Sherif camp where they claimed living conditions were better.
Officials from the UN, African Union and international aid agencies tried to intervene. The deputy manager of the camp was beaten up and arrested, and the UN is now believed to have removed most of its staff. African Union peacekeepers meant to monitor events in Darfur said they did not have the power to intervene. A day earlier the Sudanese government and rebels signed peace pacts at African Union-hosted peace talks in Nigeria.
The UN Security Council is to meet in Nairobi, Kenya, next week to discuss the crisis. A separate team is in Sudan to investigate claims that the attacks on civilians in Darfur constitute genocide.
Tony Blair told parliament yesterday that the international community will give a "serious response" if the Sudanese government does not end attacks on Darfur. He added: "Time is running out for them to honour these commitments."