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Rights groups say 3 million refugees remain threatened by violence.
He said if the Darfur conflict were really over, “we would see from 2.5 to 3 million people begin to return to their homes and start to rebuild their lives. But that’s not happening. The people who were driven from their homes and who lost family, they remain frightened. They do not feel safe outside the camps because the Sudanese government still has a military proxy group that is committing atrocities outside the camps. To chalk this up to banditry and lawlessness is flatly disingenuous.”
Enough charges that the Sudan government is stockpiling weapons in preparation for renewed conflict in Darfur as well as a possible re-ignited war in southern Sudan.
“The Khartoum government has bought fighter jets from China and artillery and surface-to surface-missiles. They have bought tanks from former Soviet republics. And it is well known that Sudan now manufactures its own small arms, mostly AK-47 rifles, thanks to help from the Chinese,” Thomas-Jensen said.
Sudan analyst Gillian Lusk said the U.N. general’s statement was "unhelpful" because it could lead people to believe that Darfur's problems had been solved.
"There has been a large decline in fighting in Darfur, and that is undoubtedly a good thing for the people," she told the BBC. "But it is the government that turns the tap on and off — they can restart the violence whenever they want."
The Washington-based Save Darfur Coalition also finds fault with Agwai's statement. "The political and humanitarian crisis in Darfur is not over. Nor is the threat of full-scale fighting over, said Sean Brooks, policy associate of Save Darfur Coalition. "We find Gen. Agwai's statement surprising, considering that just a few weeks ago he said that the U.N. forces are only at 70 percent deployment and need to be fully deployed to protect the people of Darfur. There are still no U.N. helicopters to fully meet the protection mandate for refugees and aid workers. 2009 has been the most dangerous year for aid workers with kidnappings and hijackings."
Concerted international pressure, "particularly from Egypt and other neighboring states, the Arab League and the African Union is needed to get the Khartoum government to be committed to the peace process," said Brooks. All sides agree that a political solution is needed to fully end the conflict.
The Sudan government, however, has proved so far to be relatively impervious to international pressure, as it has wealth from its oil exports and support from neighboring Arab and African countries.
Last week, the U.S. envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, said the existence of 26 different rebel factions was a major obstacle to reaching a peace agreement with the government. Gration brokered talks that led to four groups agreeing to work together, calling the deal a "very strong foundation for rebel unification."
However much more concerted international pressure is needed to get the Sudanese government to commit to fully implementing a comprehensive peace agreement.
Thomas-Jensen of Enough concludes, “What is needed is a credible and inclusive political process to create a lasting resolution to the conflict.”