Annan sends UN envoy to Sudanese capital to clarify details of Darfur agreements

Annan sends UN envoy to Sudanese capital to clarify details of Darfur agreements

Secretary-General Kofi Annan is dispatching a senior envoy to Khartoum for talks with Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir about the details of recent agreements on ending the widespread killing and displacement in the war-torn Darfur region, including the role of the United Nations, a spokesman for the world body announced today.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, currently the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, will start his diplomatic mission in the Sudanese capital on Wednesday, Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

He added the decision to send a UN envoy to deliver a message to Mr. el-Bashir followed a weekend telephone conversation between the Secretary-General and the Sudanese leader.

The two men will clarify details of the deal reached at last month’s High-Level meeting on Darfur, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the UN, the AU and Sudan agreed that the UN would provide extra support to the current AU peacekeeping mission – known as AMIS – as part of a three-phase process culminating in AMIS becoming a hybrid UN-AU mission.

The hybrid force is expected to have about 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers, compared to the current AMIS strength of around 7,000.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah and Mr. el-Bashir will also discuss the outcome of a subsequent AU Peace and Security Council meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, which endorsed the conclusions reached in Addis Ababa.

Under the first phase of enhanced UN support, the UN is giving AMIS a $21 million “light support package,” which includes the provision of some equipment as well as 105 military advisers, 33 police officers and 48 civilian staff from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) – a separate peacekeeping operation mandated to oversee a peace pact that ended the 21-year war in the country’s south.

Mr. Annan and the Security Council’s five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – will hold their own meeting on Darfur later today. Secretary-General designate Ban Ki-moon is also expected to attend.

More than 200,000 people have been killed across Darfur since 2003 and at least 2 million others displaced from their homes because of fighting between Government forces, allied militias and rebel groups seeking greater autonomy.

Some 4 million people now depend on the UN or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for humanitarian aid, and the security situation across the vast and impoverished region on Sudan’s western flank continues to deteriorate.