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U.N. Envoy: Darfur Faces New Dangers Amid Chad Unrest

U.N. special envoy to Darfur Jan Eliasson painted a bleak picture of the war-torn Sudanese region Friday, warning that rebel groups had made only limited progress toward peace talks. In an interview, Eliasson details the latest developments in Darfur and explains how unrest in neighboring Chad may further inflame the crisis.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Finally tonight, an update on Darfur, and to Margaret Warner.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    It's been out of the headlines of late, but the conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan continues to rage.

  • The toll:

    at least 200,000 dead, and 2.5 million forced from their homes.

    Five years of fighting has pitted local black villagers and rebel commanders against Sudanese government forces and their proxy fighters, the mostly Arab Janjaweed militias.

    The victims have been primarily civilians, driven from their villages, then intimidated — and the women raped — whenever they venture outside their refugee camps. The U.S. has called the killings of civilians "genocide."

    The situation is now further complicated by a civil war in neighboring Chad, where hundreds of thousands of Darfurians are in refugee camps.

    Today, the U.N. Security Council received an update from its special envoy for Darfur, veteran Swedish diplomat and former U.N. General Assembly President Jan Eliasson. He joins us from the U.N.

    And, Mr. Ambassador, thank you for being with us.

    JAN ELIASSON, U.N. Special Envoy to Darfur: Thank you for inviting me.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The update you presented today to the Security Council was pretty grim. You said at one point the situation is "veering out of control." How so?

  • JAN ELIASSON:

    Well, we have made some progress in getting the movements to consolidate. There were maybe anywhere between 10 and 20 movements to deal with earlier. Now we have five groupings.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    These are the rebels?

  • JAN ELIASSON:

    Of the rebels, right, of the movements, resistance movements. But now the latest development on the ground has led to a very deteriorating security situation. And, of course, the events in Chad are also complicating our work severely.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Well, today, there was, of course, this attack that seemed to follow the old pattern. It was in western Darfur on two towns. According to witnesses, you had the Sudanese government helicopters and the Janjaweed militias on the ground working together to drive these people out.

    But in general, have those systematic atrocities continued at the same pace? Or are the deaths now more attributed to malnutrition and other conditions like that?

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