30/09/2004

UN envoys to update world body on Darfur crisis

The UN's top human rights official and its expert on genocide will brief the Security Council today on the findings of their weeklong mission to the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour and Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Juan Méndez were sent to the region – which has seen more than 1.65 million people forced to leave their homes and thousands more killed by government-backed militias – to investigate the latest situation and recommend what should be done to protect the region's "vast and rising population of displaced persons".

Before leaving Geneva, where she is based, Mrs Arbour told reporters she will lead the call for a "rapidly expanded" external security and humanitarian presence in Darfur.

Many of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) live in a climate of fear, she said, because of the possibility of further attacks from Janjaweed militias that have already been linked to the killings and rapes of villagers and the destruction of homes and cropland.

There are about 1.45 million IDPs in Darfur and another 200,000 refugees in neighbouring Chad because of the Janjaweed attacks and fighting between Sudanese Government forces and two local rebel groups.

Mr Annan's Special Representative for Sudan Jan Pronk will brief the Council next Tuesday on his latest 30-day report on what progress Khartoum has made towards restoring security in Darfur and disarming the Janjaweed.

Mr Pronk is currently in Brussels holding talks with European Union (EU) officials on support for an expanded mission of African Union (AU) monitors and on how to improve humanitarian assistance.

UNAMIS said yesterday that there have been reports of attacks by the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), one of the Darfur rebel groups, on military and police camps in the region in the past two weeks.

(gmcg/mb)

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