Annan to help African Union expand Darfur mission

New York- UN (PANA) -- UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has proposed four areas where the United Nations can immediately help the African Union expand its ceasefire-monitoring mission in the strife-torn Darfur region of western Sudan, according to his spokesman here.
In a letter to AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare, Annan has offered support in setting up a UN assistance cell, pre- screening police for participation in the AU mission, opening a Darfur regional office of the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) and organising a pledging conference to fund the enlarged AU mission.
The first group of the UN assistance cell, which would be based at the AU's headquarters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, is expected to arrive Tuesday, according to spokesman Fred Eckhard.
The AU is expanding the size and scope of its mission in Darfur, an impoverished region that has been beset by ethnic conflict since early last year, from its current size of just over 350 ceasefire monitors and protection troops.
The ceasefire is between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which have been waging war against each other since early 2003.
Some 1.
45 million Sudanese are internally displaced and another 200,000 are living as refugees in neighbouring Chad because of both the fighting and the brutal attacks against civilians by Arab militias known as the Janjaweed.
The militias stand accused of killing and raping thousands of villagers and destroying homes and cropland.
At the request of the Security Council, Annan is setting up a commission of inquiry to investigate whether genocide has taken place in Darfur.
Meanwhile, Annan's Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs in the Sudan, Taye Zerihoun, is travelling to the Chadian capital of N'Djamena to attend the latest meeting of the committee monitoring the ceasefire.
After Tuesday's meeting, Zerihoun will head for Nairobi in Kenya to attend the resumption Thursday of peace talks designed to resolve the separate long-running civil war in Sudan's south.
Those talks are scheduled to resume with a meeting between Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha and John Garang, the chairman of the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Movement/Army.

05 october 2004 10:41:00




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