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Ex-US ambassador says world not doing enough for Sudan

Visits shelters for displaced in Darfur region

AL-FASHER, Sudan -- The former US ambassador to the United Nations visited a camp for the displaced in the troubled Darfur region yesterday and sharply criticized Sudan, the United Nations, the US government, and the international community as doing too little to stem the humanitarian crisis.

Richard Holbrooke -- traveling with US Senator Jon S. Corzine, a New Jersey Democrat -- visited the Krinding camp near El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur State.

''What we have seen is very moving, very disturbing, and there is an enormous amount that needs to be done still in the humanitarian area and beyond that," Holbrooke said after the visit.

''I do not think that anyone involved -- the Sudanese government, the United Nations, the international community, my own country -- is yet doing enough. . . . The core of this is a political problem, and the humanitarian crisis will go on as long as the political issue is not resolved," he said.

The United Nations views Darfur as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The Sudanese government is under intense international pressure to restore calm across the swath of western Sudan where an 18-month insurgency has killed more than 30,000 people and driven more than 1 million from their homes.

A 30-day deadline set by the United Nations for the Sudanese government to rein in Arab militiamen accused of the violence against black African farmers, or face penalties, expired Monday.

The United Nations is now considering whether to impose sanctions on Sudan. The UN special envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, is to brief the Security Council on Darfur tomorrow.

After touring the Krinding camp, Corzine and Holbrooke met African Union cease-fire commission officials in Al-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State.

The visit by the US dignitaries coincided with the third day of a fruitless search-and-rescue operation for eight missing Sudanese aid workers.

A UN security team searched on the ground and by helicopter yesterday, but turned up no trace of the workers -- three from the UN World Food Program and five from the Sudanese Red Crescent.

The international aid agencies said they lost radio contact Saturday with the workers, who were registering displaced villagers in rebel territory.

Sudanese officials alleged that the aid workers had been kidnapped by rebels waging the insurgency against the government. The region south of Al-Fasher where the workers went missing has in the past two years seen fierce fighting between government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army.

Minni Minnawi, secretary general of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army, however, denied his group was holding the aid workers. The Sudan Liberation Army is one of two African rebel factions that took up arms in February 2003, claiming discrimination by the Arab-dominated government in the capital, Khartoum.

''We ourselves suspect the government and the Janjaweed. The area in which they were kidnapped is not in our control; it is in the control of the government, and there are many Janjaweed in that area," Minnawi told reporters in Abuja, Nigeria, where rebels and government officials were participating in peace talks.

Still officials with the World Food Program were not yet calling the aid workers' disappearance a kidnapping.

''We simply do not know what has happened to them," said Marcus Prior, the agency's spokesman in Khartoum.

In June, 16 relief workers from international aid organizations were detained for several days in North Darfur, one of the region's three states, by the Sudan Liberation Army. The rebels said they had stopped the workers to ascertain their identities because they were in a military zone.

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