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Rebels Seek Aid, Trials in Sudan

June 27, 2004|From Reuters

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Rebels in Sudan's remote Darfur region Saturday demanded the imposition of a military no-fly zone, free access for aid workers and war crimes trials for Arab militias, which they blame for much of the conflict in the region.

In an urgent letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will both visit Darfur this week, the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement listed demands that it said must be met before political talks can begin.

A news release about the letter said the rebels wanted "protection of Sudanese civilians who are isolated and in danger and who are being threatened with genocide crimes, transfer and organized starvation because of their ethnicity."

After long conflict between Arab nomads and African villagers, two rebel groups launched a revolt in February 2003 in Darfur, accusing the government of arming the Arab militias, known locally as janjaweed.

The fighting reportedly has killed thousands of people, driven hundreds of thousands from their homes and triggered what the United Nations calls the world's worst current humanitarian crisis.

The rebels' statement said humanitarian agencies should be allowed to fly aid and workers directly into Darfur, but a no-fly zone should be imposed on military flights.

It also formally requested a judicial investigation into what it called war crimes in Darfur for prosecution of those responsible under international law.

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