Nigeria warned Sudan yesterday that it risked international ostracism after ceasefire monitors confirmed reports of a recent attack by Khartoum's forces against civilians in Darfur. The rare public admonishment of a fellow African country by Nigeria came on the day that the United Nations deadline for Khartoum to stop the ethnic cleansing of refugees in Darfur was due to expire. But the Sudanese government, which hopes for a "reasonable decision" by the Security Council next week, rejected claims that it was responsible for the violence. It accused Darfur rebels of kidnapping eight UN and Red Crescent workers. An estimated 50,000 people have died and more than a million civilians have been driven from their homes in Darfur in the past 18 months. The long-running conflict between settled villagers and nomadic tribes turned into one of the world's worst humanitarian crises after two rebel groups took up arms, while Khartoum backed the Janjaweed militia in an ethnic cleansing campaign against villagers. Roman Catholic bishops in Sudan said yesterday the atrocities constituted genocide, informs Telegraph. According to Independent,the men of Darfur have gone. After the Janjaweed Arab militias and Sudanese military descended on these villages, teenagers, youths and grown men vanished. Many joined the rebel groups to avenge their dead relatives but others were murdered and their bodies left to carrion-eaters. Some of the remains have been buried by families who crept under cover of night to spread soil over their husbands and brothers, but high in the hills of north-west Darfur, there is a tangle of skeletons and part-decomposed bodies, a testimony to the killings. Jan Pronk, the UN special representative for Sudan, briefed the Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday on Darfur for a Security Council meeting on Thursday that will decide whether the Sudanese government has kept its promise to end hostilities. More than a million Darfuris have fled their homes for fear of attack by the Janjaweed Arab militia, which was mobilised by the Sudanese government to help crush rebel forces of the Sudanese Liberation Army. Inside Darfur, no one believes the war is over. Human Rights Watch say the Sudanese government is still permitting active Janjaweed camps in western Sudan. Then there is the hard evidence: the bodies. African Union monitors are investigating claims that Sudanese helicopter gunships bombed a village just days before the expiry of the United Nations’ deadline for the Khartoum government to end the violence in Darfur. Officials from the AU have visited Um Hashab village to try to establish what happened in the attack, which is reported to have taken place last Thursday. But with the UN security council due to meet this week to discuss whether Sudan has done enough to stave off sanctions, one senior UN official yesterday insisted that attacks on refugees in Darfur remained a major problem. Dennis McNamara, a special adviser to the UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator on Displacement, said the attacks included multiple rapes by armed militia of Darfuri women and girls. "It hasn’t stopped. There are enough first-hand, credible reports that this remains a major problem. Security needs to be improved and perpetrators need to be prosecuted," he said after visiting victims in some of Darfur’s camps. The deadline for Sudan to comply with the UN resolution ran out last night. Britain has said that it will wait until a UN team delivers its report on the latest situation to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, today before deciding what action should be taken, publishes the Scotsman.
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