KHARTOUM, Apr 20 – The head of the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region of Sudan expressed concern on Friday that rebels are exploiting a deadly standoff between Sudan and South Sudan.
Ibrahim Gambari made the statement following three separate rebel attacks in Darfur last Tuesday.
“In the climate of ongoing tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, I am deeply concerned that armed movements are seeking to destabilise Darfur,” Gambari said.
He said such actions could undermine progress towards peace made since the government last year signed a peace deal in Doha with an alliance of Darfur rebel splinter factions.
“I reiterate my call on the armed movements to discard the logic of war and to join the peace process for the sake of the long-suffering people of Darfur,” Gambari said.
Border clashes between Sudan and South Sudan escalated last week with waves of air strikes hitting the South, and Juba seizing the north’s Heglig oil hub on April 10.
The border fighting has sparked fears of all-out war and is the most serious since South Sudan gained independence last July under a peace pact that ended Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war, in which about two million people died.
In 2003, rebels drawn from Darfur’s non-Arab tribes rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government.
Conflict has continued despite the Doha pact, although much of the violence has degenerated into banditry with a proliferation of splinter factions and militias loosely allied with the government.