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Govt-Backed Group Hands Over Arms In Darfur

Sudan: UN Witnesses Arms Handover By Government-Backed Group In Darfur

The joint mission of United Nations and Sudanese Government officials to the war-torn Darfur region was on hand today as some 200 members of Khartoum-backed People's Defence Force handed in their weapons under a new disarmament programme.

The team also visited camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), inspected hospitals and therapeutic centres for children, and held talks with relief workers, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, heads the verification mission, which is determining whether Khartoum is making progress on its promises to disarm the brutal Janjaweed militias and improve security for Darfur's massive population of IDPs.

The mission is expected to wrap up its visit tomorrow, two days before the expiration of a Security Council deadline for Khartoum to prove it is taking steps to alleviate the crisis in Darfur.

Mr. Dujarric said Mr. Pronk is likely to brief the Council next Thursday on his findings. The Council has threatened Sudan with possible measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter, including economic penalties, if it does not show progress.

At least 1.2 million people are now IDPs and another 200,000 have fled to Chad as refugees because of the Janjaweed attacks and fighting between Government forces and two rebel groups.

Last month the Sudanese Government and the UN agreed to set up a Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM) to monitor the situation and make sure the two sides meet their promises to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

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