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Annan welcomes initial agreement between Sudan, rebels to end Darfur conflict

Annan welcomes initial agreement between Sudan, rebels to end Darfur conflict

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed today the signing of a preliminary agreement between the Sudanese Government and rebel factions aimed at ending the two-year-old civil war, which has killed at least 180,000 people and displaced nearly 2 million others in the country's Darfur region.

In a statement issued by his spokesman in New York, Mr. Annan welcomed the signing – by the Government of Sudan, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Movement – in Abuja, Nigeria, of a Declaration of Principles for the Resolution of the Conflict in Darfur.

“The Declaration signals the parties' intention to bring to an end the conflict in Darfur,” the statement said, adding: “The Secretary-General congratulates African Union (AU) mediator Salim Ahmed Salim and the United Nations team which participated in the negotiations on the successful conclusion of this stage.”

“He encourages the parties to move forward decisively and promptly when they restart talks on 24 August and to conclude a lasting political settlement to bring an end to the enormous suffering of the people of Darfur,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General will travel to the Sudanese capital Khartoum over the weekend, following the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. In Khartoum, he will attend the inauguration of the Government of National Unity, where he is expected to deliver remarks.

In other news, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports that a high level of non-political violence, mostly banditry and theft, is continuing to take place in the three states of Darfur. Inter-tribal fighting over livestock is also a major cause of insecurity and death in the province.

Also, the second phase of the relocation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the Abou Shouk camp in North Darfur to Al-Salam began on Monday. Some 23,000 people are to be moved in two phases by 18 July.

Fighting in Darfur flared in early 2003 after rebels took up arms, partly in protest over the distribution of resources. Militias such as the Janjaweed joined in the battle against them, terrorizing the population. The UN says some 180,000 people have died as a result of the conflict, while another 1.8 million have been forced from their homes, including about 200,000 who fled across the border to neighbouring Chad.