Top UN envoy for Sudan attends conference on native administration of Darfur
The top United Nations envoy for Sudan today attended the opening of a conference to review a draft law on the native administration of the Darfur region, where fighting between rebels and Government forces since early 2003 has led to what senior UN officials have called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
According to a UN spokesman, participants are discussing the draft law, which is based on earlier consultations with local leaders, taking into account recent agreements with the United Nations. Last week, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, reached agreement with Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail on a plan of action by the Government to take "detailed steps" within 30 days to disarm the militias, improve security for the more than 1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and alleviate the humanitarian crisis.
That agreement follows the joint communiqué signed 3 July by the Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Government in which Khartoum pledged to disarm the Janjaweed, resume political talks on Darfur and protect those in IDP camps.
The two-day conference, organized by the Sudanese Government, brought together tribal and traditional community leaders from West, North and South Darfur States. President Omar al-Bashir and members of his administration, as well as members of the diplomatic corps, were also present.
Mr. Pronk said he welcomed the meeting and the participation of the traditional leaders to discuss necessary reforms to be undertaken in Darfur in order to restore peace and stability in that region. He welcomed the conference as a positive step towards implementing the Khartoum Government's commitments as outlined in the Darfur Plan of Action.
The vast Darfur region in Sudan's west - roughly the size of France - has seen thousands of people killed and at least 1.2 million people flee their homes since fighting erupted in early 2003 between Sudanese Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias and two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
In other activities, Mr. Pronk also held a press encounter with the Sudanese media, during which he provided an overview on the UN's current activities in the Sudan, the background for the mandate of the UN mission and his role and activities as Special Representative.
This evening, Mr. Pronk was to have met Foreign Minister Ismail to continue discussions on tomorrow's meeting of the Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM), set up to report on progress in implementing the terms of the 3 July joint communiqué.