300 million in pledges good beginning towards assisting African Union in Darfur

Just back from a week long visit to Sudan, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan 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 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 the 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 Medécins Sans Frontieres, Mr. Pronk, said that the pair have been released on bail after he intervened at the highest level with government officials. The UN is closely monitoring the situation, he added. read more