Press release | Date: 09/04/2004
Norway is very pleased about the agreement on a ceasefire in Darfur, western Sudan, which was signed in Chad on 8 April, said State Secretary Vidar Helgesen. (14.04.04)
Ceasefire in Darfur
Norway is very pleased about the agreement on a ceasefire in Darfur, western Sudan, which was signed in Chad on 8 April. The agreement encourages the parties to continue negotiations on a political solution to the conflict as soon as possible.
"Norway is very pleased that the Sudanese government and the rebel forces reached agreement in Chad on 8 April on a ceasefire and safe passage for humanitarian aid to the victims of the conflict. We hope that this agreement will lay the groundwork for a swift and lasting solution to this tragic conflict," said State Secretary, Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"Norway has been working for a long time for a renewal of the ceasefire agreement for Darfur that was concluded last autumn. We are therefore pleased that Chadian President Idriss Deby and representatives of the UN, the USA, the EU and the AU have assisted the parties in reaching this agreement. The Norwegian government has clearly expressed its serious concern about the humanitarian situation in Darfur as a result of the hostilities. Therefore it is especially heartening that the parties have finally arrived at an agreement that makes it possible to resume deliveries of humanitarian relief supplies to almost one million people who have been affected by the hostilities," said Mr. Helgesen.
"We note that the agreement can be renewed on the expiry of the initial 45-day period, and are pleased that the parties have agreed to resume the negotiations on political issues in the capital of Chad, N’djamena, within the next 15 days. We hope these negotiations will pave the way for a lasting solution. Norway will follow closely the implementation of the agreement, and encourage the parties to take advantage of the opportunities that have now opened up to put an end to this conflict," Mr. Helgesen added.
Notes to editors:
The agreement was concluded on 8 March between the Sudanese government and the two rebel forces in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The agreement was the result of two weeks of negotiations headed by Chadian President Idriss Deby, in which representatives of the UN, the USA, the EU and the AU participated. Ambassador Tom Vraalsen took part in the negotiations as the UN Secretary-General’s special representative.
The agreement calls for the parties to cease hostilities within 72 hours for a period of 45 days, which can be extended. The parties also agree to allow unimpeded access to humanitarian aid organisations and to release war prisoners. They also agree to disarm guerrilla forces who have been accused of being behind many of the attacks on the civilian population. The parties have agreed to meet again in N’djamena within the next 15 days to continue the negotiations with a view to finding a political solution, under the leadership of the Chadian President. International representatives will take part in the negotiations.
The conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur provinces has been going on for more than a year and has developed into one of the worst humanitarian disasters in Africa. It is estimated that one million people have been affected by the conflict; about 100 000 of them are refugees in neighbouring Chad. Since September 2003, Norway has provided approximately USD 3.5 million in humanitarian aid to the war-ravaged population in Darfur, and allocated USD 1 million for aid to refugees in Chad.