Home | News    Thursday 23 September 2004

UN envoy to report on Sudan "atrocities" next week

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KHARTOUM, Sept 23 (AFP) — UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s envoy Jan Pronk said Thursday he would report back to the Security Council next on the situation in Darfur, the region of western Sudan devastated by 19 months of conflict.

"Atrocities, very bad things, killings, rape, burning of villages have taken place," Pronk told a press conference in Khartoum, but stopped short of describing what was happening there as "genocide."

He said close to two million people had now been affected by the fighting between pro-government militias and Darfur rebels, which the United Nations says has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today,

Pronk said he would present his report next Thursday and that the Security Council would discuss it on October 5.

The Security Council adopted a resolution last Saturday calling for an investigation into charges of human rights violations and genocide in Darfur, and warned Sudan of possible sanctions against its oil industry unless it protects the region’s population.

The war broke out in February 2003 when rebels rose up against Khartoum to demand an end to the marginalisation of their region, main peopled by black Africans and one of the poorest in Sudan.

UN officials say pro-government Janjaweed militias have carried out a scorched-earth campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Arab minorities over the past 19 months.

Pronk said his report would update the Council on the situation and how much the government was meeting the UN demands to rein in the militias known as Janjaweed, whose name in Arabic means "devils on horseback."

The number of people who have fled their homes now stood at about 1.4 million while the total affected was 1.8 million and "we are moving towards the two million figure," Pronk said.

But displaced people were "still afraid of the police and still do not trust anyone in government uniform", said Pronk, noting however that police were "positively responding to a UN-sponsored programe aimed at removing this mistrust."

He said his report would also stress the need for strengthening and expanding the mission of the African Union’s team of observers, adding that plans were under consiseration for the AU to send 5,000 military observers to the region to work in coordination with the UN.

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