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UN and African Union envoys begin informal consultations with Darfur partners

17 March 2008 – The United Nations and African Union envoys spearheading efforts to bring lasting peace to the war-wracked Sudanese region of Darfur are holding informal consultations today in Geneva with regional partners to the political process.

Jan Eliasson of the UN and Salim Ahmed Salim are scheduled to hold consultations tomorrow on the same subject with international observers, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told journalists.

She said the consultations are expected to offer an opportunity to review the political process in Darfur, given the security situation there, especially in West Darfur, where there has been a recent spike in attacks.

Ms. Montas said the informal consultations will also consider the delays to plans to conduct substantive talks among Darfur’s rebel groups and the Sudanese Government.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million displaced from their homes since 2003, when rebels began fighting Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen in the arid and impoverished region on Sudan’s western flank.

A hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force known as UNAMID has been in place since the start of the year to try to quell the violence and the humanitarian suffering in Darfur.

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