UN human rights chief expects to visit strife-torn Darfur on trip to Sudan

25 April 2006

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, at present on a visit to East Africa, is expected to visit Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region later this week, less than a month after UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland was banned from touring the area.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, at present on a visit to East Africa, is expected to visit Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region later this week, less than a month after UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland was banned from touring the area.

Asked at a news briefing in Geneva today if Ms. Arbour had guarantees that she would be allowed to visit Darfur, spokesman José Luis Díaz said it was fully expected that she would be able to go and all indications confirmed this.

When Mr. Egeland was banned from visiting Darfur at the beginning of this month the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said it regretted the Government's decision and Secretary-General Kofi Annan sought to speak to Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir.

The one-week visit beginning on Saturday is Ms. Arbour's second trip to Sudan. In addition to Khartoum, the capital, and Darfur she is scheduled to go to Juba in South Sudan where a peace agreement in January 2005 ended two decades of war between Government and rebel forces.

Since her first visit in 2004, she has issued two major reports on the situation in Sudan, one focusing on sexual violence and the other on the general human rights situation.

She now intends to see how the situation has progressed since the 2004 visit and the reports, in which she expressed concern about the disconnect between the commitments undertaken by the country in the area of human rights and the actual situation on the ground, Mr. Diaz said.

Ms. Arbour is currently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she was meeting with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and senior judicial and law enforcement officials as well as with representatives of parties from across the political spectrum and human rights staff of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).

She will then go to Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss human rights issues related to Somalia with the UN Political Office for Somalia, headed by Mr. Annan's Special Representative for the country, François Lonseny Fall.

 

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