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Missions Seeking to End Darfur Strife Visit AU HQ

UN Missions Seeking to End Darfur Strife Visit African Union Headquarters

New York, Jun 7 2006 6:00PM

Two United Nations missions seeking to strengthen an African Union (AU) monitoring force in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region and prepare for its possible transition to a full-fledged UN peacekeeping operation held talks today with various officials in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

A Security Council mission led by British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry met with AU representatives, while a UN-AU team led by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno met with the leadership and staff of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).

Yesterday, the Council delegation met with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and other senior Government leaders, as well as members of Parliament.

It is also scheduled to visit Darfur and cross the border to Chad where hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees are living in camps.

Overall, three years of fighting in Darfur between the Government, pro-Government militias and rebels have killed scores of thousands of people and displaced some 2 million others amid charges of the massacre of civilians, rape and other atrocities.

The UN-AU teams is assessing the immediate needs of strengthening the current 7,000-strong AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which initially will be responsible for helping to implement a peace accord there.

The missions follow the signing a month ago of a peace agreement between the Government and the largest rebel faction in Darfur. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland has warned that it is vital that AMIS receive a more robust mandate to protect the civilian population and humanitarian workers, and that its force be at least double its current strength.

Two smaller rebel groups have so far refused to sign the accord, and the Government has not yet agreed to a UN peacekeeping operation for Darfur.


ENDS

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