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Annan Arrives in Sudan for Talks, Darfur Visit

Annan Arrives in Sudan for Talks With Top Officials, Darfur Visit

New York, May 27 2005 3:00PM

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum today for a visit that will also take him to the troubled Darfur region, a day after he urged donors to help an African-led peacekeeping mission scale up its operations there.

Mr. Annan’s three-day visit will include talks with Sudan’s leadership and a visit to the south as well as the western Darfur region. He will get a first-hand impression of the humanitarian situation there, where the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) is struggling with dwindling resources and insufficient equipment to neutralize the violence that has killed thousands and forced 2 million people from their homes.

In Khartoum, the Secretary-General held an initial meeting with Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail. Speaking to the press afterwards, Mr. Annan said he was encouraged that the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, bringing an end to a two-decade-long civil conflict between the north and south, was moving forward.

The Secretary-General also said the two discussed the need to do everything possible to bring security to Darfur and to ensure that the farmers could go back to their land, plant and cultivate and harvest their crops. He added that the Foreign Minister assured him the Sudanese Government would do everything to facilitate the work of the humanitarian community in the region.

Responding to a question about food shortages in southern Sudan, he drew attention to the funding shortages in the UN’s humanitarian programme there, saying: “It is a shame that in the south we have a peace agreement, but we don’t have the resources required. It looks like governments have shifted support they used to give to the south to Darfur.” Additional resources were needed to cover both crises, he stressed.

Accompanying the Secretary-General on the Sudan leg of the trip are the heads of three non-governmental organizations (NGOs): George Rupp of the International Rescue Committee; Tom Arnold of Concern and Ken Bacon of Refugees International.

Mr. Annan arrived in Sudan after co-hosting yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a donors’ conference that yielded what he called “generous pledges,” including strategic airlift, training and planning support – all essential elements for AMIS’s expansion to more than 6,000 military personnel and 1,500 police at a cost of more than $465 million for one year.

At the Khartoum airport today, the Secretary-General pointed out that since his visit to Darfur last year, the number of people delivering humanitarian aid has risen to more than 11,000 from just 900. “What we need is a political settlement, security and access to those in need,” he added. “Of course, security would help our work considerably.”

ENDS

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