Annan: Chaos looms in Darfur
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- U.N. head Kofi Annan has warned that chaos is looming as fighting in the Sundanese province of Darfur escalates, displacing millions of people.
"In Darfur, chaos is looming as order is collapsing," he noted in a 15-page report to the U.N. Security Council.
Fighting between government forces and rebels in Darfur has worsened since late November, the report said, with the government failing to rein in the Arab Janjaweed militia blamed for attacks on the region's black African population.
Up to 2.3 million people, more than a third of the region's pre-conflict population of six million, are now believed to have been displaced, Annan's report states.
Compounding the dire situation, a fourth year of poor harvests has raised the specter of famine, Annan warned.
The Darfur crisis began in February 2003, when black rebel groups took up arms to fight for more power and resources.
The government responded by backing Arab militias, who have driven millions of villagers from their homes.
The two sides reached a cease-fire agreement in November after talks overseen by the African Union.
But fighting between rebels, government troops and the Janjaweed has continued despite the accord, and witnesses report that Sudanese warplanes have resumed air strikes on suspected rebel positions, Annan's report states.
The government denies those reports.
The United Nations has called Darfur one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters, and Washington has labeled it genocide.
Twenty-one months of violence have left tens of thousands dead while some 200,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Chad.
Annan's report to the U.N. Security Council sites a number of troubling developments in Darfur, following the breakdown of the cease-fire:"There is a danger that violence may continue to escalate""No progress was made with the disarmament of the Janjaweed in November""There has also been no indication of the Government apprehending and bringing to justice Janjaweed leaders""The humanitarian situation in Darfur remains serious, with little on the horizon to indicate a reduction of relief needed by the civilian population""Darfur is facing a fourth consecutive meager harvest, with conditions similar to those preceding the 1984 famine""There has been no significant progress towards the free, unhindered and timely access by human rights observers to detention centers" holding refugees displaced by the fighting
Shortly after the November 19 cease-fire agreement was signed, the U.N. refugee agency pulled its staff out of part of the Darfur region to protest government restrictions on aid workers.