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Ban Ki-moon begins foreign trip with senior UN staff retreat in Italy

Ban Ki-moon begins foreign trip with senior UN staff retreat in Italy

Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon leaves United Nations Headquarters tonight for a working trip that will begin in Turin, Italy, with a three-day retreat of senior UN staff and then follow with a visit to Sudan, Chad and Libya to observe first-hand the crises in Darfur and eastern Chad and the post-conflict situation in southern Sudan.

Mr. Ban will chair the retreat, taking place at the UN Staff College, with Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General in attendance, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.

Participants will discuss UN global issues and reforms, focusing on delivering results, during a series of intensive meetings, she said. The meetings will also consider the UN’s readiness and capacity to perform its duties, particularly in promoting peace and security.

Ms. Montas said the retreat “provides an opportunity for the UN’s senior managers to explore and propose ways of better managing the Organization, and improving its effectiveness. Apart from these concrete objectives, it is expected that the retreat would promote unity of purpose and common understanding of the UN and its priorities.”

After Turin, Mr. Ban heads to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, for talks with President Omar al-Bashir and other Government officials, before heading to Juba in the south of the country, where the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is trying to help implement the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement ending the north-south civil war.

Then the Secretary-General is scheduled to travel to El Fasher, capital of North Darfur province and the slated headquarters of the new hybrid UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Darfur, to be known as UNAMID.

At a press conference yesterday Mr. Ban said his trip to Sudan and neighbouring countries was designed to “lock in” the progress made so far towards a political solution for the Darfur conflict and to see first-hand the difficult conditions that UNAMID faces.

More than 200,000 people have been killed across Darfur since 2003 because of fighting between rebel groups, Government forces and allied Janjaweed militias, while another 2 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

Mr. Ban then heads to N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, where the Security Council has indicated it is willing to authorize a multidimensional UN presence to quell the fighting and suffering in the east of the country. The last stop on the trip will be Tripoli, Libya, for a meeting with that country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi.