Sudan UN human rights officials to meet abuse victims local officials in

The two senior United Nations human rights officials dispatched by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan to examine how civilians can be protected from continuing attacks by armed militias will visit camps for displaced persons, speak to abuse victims and hold talks with local officials, the UN announced today.The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour – who begins a weeklong mission to Darfur tomorrow with Mr. Annan’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Juan Méndez – unveiled details of the mission in Geneva.Mrs. Arbour’s spokesman José Luis Díaz told reporters the High Commissioner and Mr. Méndez will travel to Darfur’s three states to meet victims of human rights abuses, inspect camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and hold talks with local officials and staff from UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).Mr. Díaz said the pair will head on Monday to El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State, before travelling to South Darfur and then West Darfur later in the week. The mission is then expected to return to the capital Khartoum on Friday before heading back to Geneva.Mr. Annan announced the trip yesterday, saying the two officials were not going to Darfur to decide whether genocide has taken place, but to recommend what can be done to protect civilians now and in the months ahead.In a statement, Mrs. Arbour said: “My colleagues have been very active in the field monitoring the situation and working with our partners. Along with the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, we will be looking at what more can be done to prevent further violations so the people of Darfur no longer have to fear massacres, rape, forced displacement and other abuses.”More than 1.2 million Sudanese are internally displaced and another 200,000 are living as refugees in neighbouring Chad because of brutal and often deadly attacks by Arab-dominated Janjaweed militias against the mainly black African local inhabitants.The Janjaweed, which are allied to Khartoum, began their attacks after two rebel groups – the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) – rose up against the Sudanese Government in Darfur early last year.Meanwhile, the Security Council has scheduled a meeting at 3pm tomorrow to discuss a draft resolution, sponsored by the United States, on the Darfur crisis. read more

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