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Top UN relief official begins visit to strife-torn Darfur, southern Sudan

6 May 2009 – The United Nations humanitarian chief kicked off a five-day trip to Sudan today to assess relief programmes in the south of the vast African country and its war-torn Darfur region.

Aid agencies are particularly concerned about the situation in Darfur since the Government expelled 13 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and revoked the permits of three local groups after the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued an arrest warrant in early March for President Omar Al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

As part of his visit, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes will review living conditions for the local populations in areas affected by the NGO expulsions in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes since 2003.

Tomorrow he is scheduled to meet representatives of the Government of Sudan, and will participate in a High Level Committee meeting on the implementation of the Joint Communiqué on the Facilitation of Humanitarian Activities in Darfur.

He will then proceed on Friday to Southern Sudan, where he will meet UN officials and representatives from the Government of Southern Sudan.

Following that, Mr. Holmes will travel on Saturday to Darfur to meet with local leaders and aid workers, as well as visit North Darfur’s Zam Zam camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs).



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