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Sudanese Government & Darfur Rebels Find Accord

Annan Hails New Accords Between Sudanese Government And Darfur Rebels

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today warmly welcomed the signing of humanitarian and security accords between the Sudanese Government and rebels in the western region of Darfur and urged them to resolve without delay what the international organization has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

But at the same time the UN mission in Sudan reported that police last night again raided the Al Geer refugee camp near Nyala, South Darfur destroying flimsy shacks, shooting in the air and shouting at terrified people. Due to the shots, UN agencies and partner groups were immediately withdrawn for their own safety into Nyala town.

About 1.45 million people are internally displaced within Darfur, a vast area the size of France, where Janjaweed militias are accused of killing and raping thousands of villagers after rebel groups took up arms against the Sudanese Government last year. Another 200,000 are living as refugees in neighbouring Chad.

The Government and two rebel groups - the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) - signed the Protocols on the Improvement of the Humanitarian Situation and on the Enhancement of the Security Situation in Darfur at a meeting yesterday in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Annan congratulated the parties on this "significant achievement" and commended the active efforts of the African Union and its current Chairman, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, in mediating the talks with the support of the UN, European Union, League of Arab States and other partners.

"He is hopeful that these measures, combined with the deployment and strengthening of the expanded African Union mission, will re-establish security and stability in the region, and facilitate the safe return of the displaced and refugees to their home areas," the statement added. "He urges the parties to intensively pursue the political negotiations and conclude an agreement without further delay."

The UN mission said Mr. Annan's Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, who is on a previously arranged visit to Nyala accompanied by Sudan's Foreign Minister, was expected to visit the raided camp as soon as possible.

According to reports reaching the mission, four small truckloads of police raided the camp in the early hours of the morning following the return there of a number of refugees previously dispersed last week. Latest reports said the area had now "calmed down."

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