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$300 million in pledges 'good beginning' towards assisting African Union in Darfur - Annan

31 May 2005 Just back from a week-long visit to Sudan, United Nations Secretary-General today said that nearly $300 million pledged by international donors to expand an African-led peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region is “a good beginning” for the next phase of the programme to stem the ongoing crisis there.

On his way into UN Headquarters this afternoon, the Secretary-General told reporters that that the situation in some areas of Sudan has stabilized.

“But we still have serious security problems outside the camps, and that is one of the reasons why I was in Addis Ababa working with the African Union (AU), NATO, the European Union and other donor states to provide the necessary support to allow the African Union to expand its forces in Darfur from the current 2,000-plus to about 8, 000,” he said.

Last Thursday, in the Ethiopian capital of in Addis Ababa, Mr. Annan co-hosted along with AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré, a donors conference to provide the financing, equipment and political backing for an expanded AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS). Today he said that about $300 million was raised in cash and in kind, which would be a good beginning for the next phase of the operation. Mr. Annan is expected to brief the Security Council on this trip on Thursday.

In other news, regarding reports of the arrest of a person who interpreted for the Secretary-General during his visit to a camp in Darfur, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, says that after talks with Sudanese government, the local authorities in South Darfur have dropped the request that the interpreter report to them. The Sudanese national had been requested to report to the authorities in Nyala a couple of times.

Regarding the arrest of two senior officials from the Dutch branch of Medecins Sans Frontieres, Mr. Pronk, has said that the pair has been released on bail. Mr. Pronk intervened at the highest level with government officials. The UN is closely monitoring the situation and hope the charges will be dropped in the near future.

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