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Climate change behind Darfur killing: UN's Ban

AFP | June 18, 2007

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate change and that more such conflicts may be on the horizon, in an article published Saturday.

"The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change," Ban said in a Washington Post opinion column.

UN statistics showed that rainfall declined some 40 percent over the past two decades, he said, as a rise in Indian Ocean temperatures disrupted monsoons.

"This suggests that the drying of sub-Saharan Africa derives, to some degree, from man-made global warming," the South Korean diplomat wrote.

"It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought," Ban said in the Washington daily.

When Darfur's land was rich, he said, black farmers welcomed Arab herders and shared their water, he said.

With the drought, however, farmers fenced in their land to prevent overgrazing.

"For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out," he said.

A UN peacekeeping force may stop the fighting, he said, and more than two million people may return to rebuilt homes in safe villages.

"But what to do about the essential dilemma: the fact that there's no longer enough good land to go around?"

"Any real solution to Darfur's troubles involves sustained economic development," perhaps using new technologies, genetically modified grains or irrigation, while bettering health, education and sanitation, he said.

Sudan is not the only country with such problems, Ban said, and pointed to Somalia, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso as African countries with "food and water insecurity."

Khartoum agreed this week to accept 23,000 UN and African Union peacekeepers after four years of fighting, which has killed at least 200,000 people.

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