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27 September - The security of civilians in Darfur as well as access for peacekeepers and aid agencies to those in need were among the issues discussed today during the latest talks between the United Nations, the African Union and the Sudanese Government.

The meeting of the Tripartite Mechanism on the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), held at UN Headquarters in New York on the sidelines of the annual high-level general debate of the General Assembly, follows months of resumed clashes, attacks on peacekeepers and aid workers, and restrictions on humanitarian access to civilians, especially internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Joint UN-AU Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari told reporters after the meeting that the mission takes its mandate to protect civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance very seriously.

“This is a continuous process of dialogue with the Government,” said Mr. Gambari, who stressed that “we need to go where we need to go.”

Humanitarian access to civilians in places such as Eastern Jebel Marra and the Kalma IDP camp were recently restored following discussions with Sudanese authorities, after having been restricted – in the case of the former, since January.

UN officials have warned that the humanitarian situation in Darfur has worsened this year due to resumed clashes between Government forces and rebels, as well as stepped up tribal fighting. The situation has been aggravated by continued attacks on UN-AU peacekeepers and abductions and mistreatment of UN staff and aid workers.

The Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Susanna Malcorra, said that a joint action plan has been developed among the parties to address all of the pertinent issues, and a mechanism set up to have monthly meetings.

While acknowledging that there is still work to do, she said today's meeting covered all questions pertaining to security and access. “We are moving and things are starting to improve.”

UNAMID was established by the Security Council in 2007 to protect civilians in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million forced from their homes since violence erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and their allied Janjaweed militiamen.