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Sudan: UN staff and others visit Darfur village where residents have returned

Sudan: UN staff and others visit Darfur village where residents have returned

Refugees from Darfur, Sudan
An observer group of United Nations staff, Sudanese officials and representatives of concerned countries has spent the second day of its visit to the troubled Darfur region inspecting a village where residents have returned following an earlier attack by militiamen.

The group also visited the South Darfur town of Kass, where thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have gathered to escape attacks by Janjaweed Arab militia and fighting between rebel groups and Government forces, and spoke to women and community leaders, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters today.

Ms. Okabe said the mission, which is monitoring whether the Sudanese Government is meeting its commitments to disarm the Janjaweed and restore security to the region, will visit West Darfur tomorrow on the last day of its three-day trip.

Air drops of food are scheduled to begin next week in West Darfur, where the annual rainy season has made road transport almost impossible. Humanitarian agencies say they remain extremely concerned about the lack of sanitation in the region.

This week's observer mission has been organized as part of the Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM), set up after the UN and Sudan signed a communiqué on 3 July outlining their commitments to alleviate what has been described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

About 1.2 million people live as IDPs and at least 180,000 others are refugees in neighbouring Chad because of the Janjaweed attacks, which are directed mainly at local black Africans, and the fighting between rebels and Khartoum.

At UN Headquarters in New York, Security Council members planned consultations on a draft resolution aimed at improving the situation in Darfur.

Meanwhile in Chad, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said staff from humanitarian agencies have been allowed to return to two refugee camps hit by a wave of violent unrest recently.

Chad had ordered aid agencies out of the camps at Farchana and Breidjing because of the violence, and two refugees died last Thursday when Chadian forces tried to quell the unrest.

UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis said the situation in Farchana and Breidjing has returned to normal.