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Darfur crisis deepening: U.N.

Ewen MacAskill

Under-equipped African Union troops unable to keep peace

— PHOTO: AP

LIFE'S BARBS: A child stands outside the African Union's headquarters in Muhajiria town, in Sudan's south Darfur region, recently.

London: The crisis in Darfur has sharply deteriorated over the last few months because of an increase in violence, a senior United Nations official said on Thursday.

Craig Sanders, head of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees in Sudan and Chad, said: ``The severity of the attacks and their frequency is increasing and we are concerned how things are going to shake out.'' He told a press conference in London after meeting British officials that the violence ``is being done with much greater subtlety and sophistication than we have seen before''.

Renewed pessimism

The optimism of the summer, when some of the refugees and displaced people began returning home after two years of fighting, has given way to renewed pessimism, he said.

Up to two million people have been displaced by the fighting and resulting famine in Darfur, with the biggest exodus taking place at the end of 2003 and early last year. The Sudanese Government has been accused, by the U.S. and others, of covertly supporting an ethnic cleansing campaign by Arab-based militias against African farmers.

Tens of thousands more people have been forced from their home over the last month to swell the already strained camps run by aid agencies in Darfur or across the border in Chad. Oxfam reported on Thursday that 20,000 new persons have arrived during recent weeks at one camp alone, Gereida, in southern Darfur.

- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

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