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Darfur: UN and AU envoys head to Eritrea for talks with regional partners

Darfur: UN and AU envoys head to Eritrea for talks with regional partners

Salim Ahmed Salim (L) and Jan Eliasson
The United Nations and African Union envoys tasked with spearheading the peace process in Darfur are meeting tomorrow with countries in the region to discuss the progress made so far and how to chart a way forward.

The UN’s Jan Eliasson and the AU’s Salim Ahmed Salim will hold the meeting in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, according to a press release issued today by the UN-AU Joint Mediation Support Team (JMST).

The Asmara meeting follows a week of consultations and preparations in Sirte, Libya, by JMST experts on some of the key issues facing war-wracked Darfur, such as power-sharing, wealth-sharing, the humanitarian situation and security conditions.

Late last month Sirte was also the site of negotiations that formed the first round of a three-phase process led by the UN and AU to try to end the conflict between rebels, Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed.

Since 2003 more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others are now homeless across Darfur, a remote and impoverished region on Sudan’s western flank. The UN and AU are deploying a hybrid peacekeeping mission (known as UNAMID) to Darfur at the start of next year in a bid to quell the violence and humanitarian suffering.

As part of the second phase of the peace process, a delegation from the JMST also travelled to Juba, southern Sudan, and to Darfur last week to exchange views with some of the region’s splintering rebel movements to help prepare for scheduled direct negotiations between the Government and the rebels next month.

Those consultations are designed in part to try to bring unity to the rebels’ position ahead of the full talks.