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Secretary-General Heading to Ethiopia and Sudan

Secretary-General Heading to Ethiopia and Sudan to Seek Help for Darfur

New York, May 23 2005 3:00PM

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will co-chair a pledging conference on Thursday to support the African Union's (AU) mission in the Darfur region of western Sudan, where for the past two years rebels have been waging a war against the Government and its allied militias, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and forcing some 2 million people from their homes.

Mr. Annan's co-chair at the 26 May donors' meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – headquarters city of the African Union – will be AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré, formerly the President of Mali.

From Addis, he will go to Sudan's capital, Khartoum, troubled Darfur and southern Sudan's newly peaceful Rumbek, returning to UN Headquarters on 1 June.

In Khartoum he is scheduled to meet Sudanese Government officials, AU officials and UN system representatives.

Mr. Annan is returning to Darfur after a visit last July "to see at first hand one of the world's worst humanitarian crises and the progress being made in meeting the people's needs on the ground," a UN spokesman said.

He was also hoping to rally support for the AU's peacekeeping presence, revitalize the AU-mediated, but stalled political negotiations and focus attention on humanitarian needs.

In Rumbek, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet John Garang, Chairman of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which fought a war against the Sudanese Government for many years before reaching a peace agreement and getting some autonomy this year.

ENDS

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