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AU welcomes Darfur agreement on humanitarian crisis


ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Sep 2, 2004 (PANA) — African Union (AU) Commission
Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare has welcomed the agreement reached
by the Sudanese parties on the improvement of the humanitarian
situation in the western strife-torn Darfur region.

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Displaced women walk within the Abu Shouk camp

The Government of Sudan and its opponents in Darfur, namely the
Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and
Equality Movement (JEM) Wednesday agreed on a protocol to improve
the humanitarian situation in Darfur.

A desired development within the framework of the Inter-Sudanese
Political Talks on the crisis in Darfur, being held in Abuja,
Nigeria, since 23 August, the protocol enables the parties to
start immediate discussion of the security issues.

"This protocol constitutes an important step in the efforts aimed
at alleviating the suffering of the civilian population in Darfur
and paving the way to a comprehensive and lasting political
settlement of the conflict in this region," the AU said Thursday
in a statement.

Meanwhile, Konare has encouraged the three parties to continue
with the same commitment in discussing the remaining items on the
agenda of the political dialogue, bearing in mind the urgency of
the situation.

Under the protocol, the parties committed themselves to guarantee
unimpeded and unrestricted access for humanitarian workers and
assistance, to reach all needy people throughout Darfur.

They agreed to allow the UN and other humanitarian assistance
organisations, including NGOs, to travel along routes proposed by
the UN, without restrictions or escorts, in order to deliver
assistance to areas controlled by any party.

With regard to the protection of the civilians, the parties
committed themselves to, among others things, maintain civilian
character of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugee
camps and protect the rights of IDPs and refugees to return to
their areas of origin.

Each party will take all steps required to prevent attacks,
threats, intimidation and any other forms of violence against
civilians by any group, including the Janjaweed, and other

The parties requested the AU to urgently take the necessary steps
to strengthen its Mission in Sudan (AMIS), with the requisite
mandate to ensure a more effective monitoring of their

The talks in Abuja are being held under the auspices of the AU

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