Sudan welcomes UN officials sent for talks on Darfur force – UN

A UN spokesman in New York said today that the Sudanese Government has still not consented to the deployment of an assessment team to Darfur. The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, and the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hédi Annabi, were dispatched to the Sudanese capital for intensified talks on the issue after the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on 16 May under Chapter VII of the Charter, which allows for enforcement measures, calling for such a team to be deployed within a week. “This dialogue will continue and will obviously intensify with Mr. Brahimi’s and Mr. Annabi’s presence in Khartoum towards the end of the week,” Mr. Dujarric told reporters in New York in response to questions. Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, pressed local government and community leaders to close their ranks behind the two-week-old pact during a recent trip to Darfur, a region roughly the size of France. Darfur has been the scene of fighting between the Government, pro-government militias and rebels that has killed scores of thousands of people and uprooted 2 million more in the last three years. Mr. Pronk agreed to hold regular meetings between UNMIS and local government leaders in West Darfur, as part of ongoing efforts to explain the Darfur Peace Agreement. In three days of intensive meetings, discussions and field visits in West Darfur, Mr. Pronk focused on explaining terms of the new agreement to various segments of society and on urging tribal and community leaders to lend it their support and to demand its endorsement by holdout rebel leaders. “To achieve peace and security for your people, regain your rights, get your fair share of power, receive compensation and attain reconstruction, you must accept and support the peace agreement,” the envoy told a large crowd of displaced Darfurians in a makeshift camp in Mournei over the weekend. During a series of similar gatherings, almost all internally displaced persons (IDPs) pleaded to Mr. Pronk for immediate protection by UN peacekeeping forces and for more food rations and other relief supplies. Women and children all echoed the demands of male IDPs for rapid protection by UN troops against attacks by the Janjaweed militia and for better foodstuff and other necessities. Mr. Pronk discussed with representatives of international and local NGOs in West Darfur obstacles hindering their work, which range from bandits stealing their vehicles to government red-tape impediments. The complaints were on the agenda of Mr. Pronk’s meeting with the Governor of Sudan’s westernmost state, who promised the UN envoy that he would address them effectively and in good faith.

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