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Sudan: senior UN envoy to meet with Darfur rebels on taking part in peace talks

16 November 2005 Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, left for South Darfur today for discussions with commanders of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement and Army on a range of issues, including their participation in the seventh round of peace talks scheduled to start next Monday.

The talks are being held in the Nigerian capital of Abuja in an effort to end nearly two years of fighting between Government forces, pro-government militias and rebels that has killed some 180,000 people and displaced 2 million others in the western Darfur region.

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said today the incidence of sexual- and gender-based violence in and around camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) remains a matter of concern throughout Darfur, with cases being reported regularly.

This week saw two instances of kidnapping of village women in the Masteri and Geneina areas with up to 12 women abducted. Insecurity around Kalma continues, in the absence of intensive police patrolling, UNMIS added. Meetings between IDP leaders and government security forces are giving some hope that the situation may soon improve.

In southern Sudan, where a peace agreement in January ended a separate two-decades-long conflict between the Government and rebels, a massive UN-supported measles immunization campaign which was due to start in Western Equatoria state on 21 November has been postponed because of inter-ethnic fighting in the state capital of Yambio.

The campaign, which aims to immunize about 4.5 million children between 6 months and 15 years of age by next year, will begin instead in the Southern Sudanese capital of Juba on 25 November, according to UNMIS.

Measles vaccination coverage in Southern Sudan is very low and outbreaks common, leading to many avoidable child deaths. Local and international staff preparing for the campaign were among more than 100 UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) staff temporarily relocated from the Yambio area yesterday due to violence.



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