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Envoy sees modest improvements in Darfur

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Though conflict between government and rebel forces in Darfur is up, in general, the overall situation has improved, a U.N. envoy said.

Ibrahim Gambari, the head of the hybrid U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, or UNAMID, told the United Nations' news service the death toll from fighting between pro- and anti-government factions was down nearly 70 percent in 2011 compared with 2010 levels.

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"I am afraid that the number of conflicts between the government and the armed movement has gone up in the past six months and also the fighting in the states of East Darfur and Central Darfur has also gone up, as well as criminality," he said.

The mission confirmed a peacekeeper from Bangladesh was killed last weekend at a camp for the internally displaced in South Darfur. "Armed men" were reported to have fled the scene after security forces returned fire.

Regional efforts to find a solution to the crisis, however, have led to a modest improvement in the security situation in Darfur, the diplomat said.

"I think that, objectively, the security situation overall has improved and this is due to in part to the fact that UNAMID has become much more robust in its approach and in its protection of civilians," he said.

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