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UN Envoy To Visit South Sudan After Attacks

UN Envoy To Visit South Sudan After Attacks; To Nigeria For Darfur Peace Process

New York, Mar 27 2006

Following separate attacks earlier this month on United Nations offices in southern Sudan, one of which killed a local guard, the senior UN envoy to the strife-torn country will travel to the affected areas later this week, before leaving for Nigeria to meet the parties involved in the peace talks over the bloody conflict in Darfur, a UN spokesman said today.

Special Representative Jan Pronk will visit Juba from 30-31 March to meet various officials, including those from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), and he will also go to Yei, the site of a deadly attack on a UN refugee agency compound, and to Yambio, where two Bangladeshi peacekeepers were wounded on 19 March when 100 armed men attacked their base.

A local guard was killed and a staff member and a second local guard seriously wounded when two gunmen attacked a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) compound in Yei on 15 March, forcing the suspension of the planned repatriation of some of the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese who had fled the bloody civil war.

After visiting southern Sudan, Mr. Pronk will then travel to Abuja in Nigeria from 1-2 April, to meet the parties involved in the peace talks on Darfur, the UN spokesman told reporters.

Speaking to the Security Council last week, Mr. Pronk said that killings, rapes and other abuse of human rights in Darfur continued to threaten the peace in Sudan as a whole, and he called for a swift peace agreement and a peacekeeping force large enough to cover the region and strong enough to deter any attack.

He said that the Government had not disarmed the militias, but on the contrary, African Union (AU) commanders on the ground openly spoke about continued support to militia by forces allied to the Government, in a civil conflict that also involves rebel groups and has killed some 180,000 people, displacing over 2 million others.

Last Friday, the Security Council extended the mandate of UNMIS until 24 September 2006, requesting also that Secretary-General Kofi Annan expedite the planning for a transformation of the AU force in the Darfur region to a UN-led operation.

Also in southern Sudan, the UN spokesman said today that the World Health Organization was dispatching a team to Warap State, after a meningitis outbreak was reported there and the Government had requested assistance.

ENDS


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