Two senior United Nations human rights officials examining how to protect the civilians of Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region from further militia attacks have completed their weeklong mission to the region and have now returned to the capital Khartoum for talks with government officials and other UN staff.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour and the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Juan Méndez will meet the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan Jan Pronk and senior Sudanese officials to discuss the latest situation in Darfur, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters today.
Mrs. Arbour and Mr. Méndez are slated to brief the press before heading back to Geneva on Sunday, Mr. Eckhard added. Mrs. Arbour and Mr. Pronk will then travel to UN Headquarters in New York next week to discuss the issues with Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Mr. Annan dispatched the two rights officials to investigate the continuing crisis in Darfur and recommend how civilians can be better protected from further attacks by the Janjaweed militias. The Janjaweed stand accused of conducting brutal attacks - killing and raping villagers, poisoning wells and destroying homes and cropland.
About 1.45 million people are internally displaced and another 200,000 live as refugees in neighbouring Chad because of the Janjaweed attacks and fighting between Sudanese Government forces and two rebel groups.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, has arrived in the Chadian capital N'Djamena for the start of a five-day mission to Chad and Sudan to see firsthand what the UN refugee agency is doing to assist the massive displaced population.
Mr. Lubbers was slated to meet Chadian President Idriss Deby, senior government officials and staff from UNHCR and aid agencies before heading on to Abeche in eastern Chad to begin his inspections.