UN envoy takes part in resumption of peace talks for southern Sudan

Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, is in Naivasha to participate in talks between representatives of Khartoum and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters today that Mr. Pronk was invited by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating the talks.Sudan’s First Vice-President Ali Othman Taha and SPLM/A Chairman John Garang are expected to meet later today in Naivasha to discuss how to reach agreement to end the conflict that has cost 2 million lives since it began in 1983. Between 3 million and 4 million people are internally displaced as a result.The Naivasha talks stalled earlier this year after the two sides initialled a series of protocols aimed at resolving some of the issues in dispute, including the distribution and control of resources in southern Sudan.Meanwhile, Mr. Pronk’s Deputy for Humanitarian Affairs, Manuel Aranda da Silva, met Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom for talks yesterday in Khartoum. Mr. Blair was in the Sudanese capital for discussions with Government ministers over the humanitarian and security crises in the Darfur region.During their talks, Mr. Aranda da Silva stressed to Mr. Blair the importance of sustained support for humanitarian operations in Darfur and for ensuring that rapid assistance is available for Sudan as soon as any peace agreement is signed.In other news, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Yakin Ertürk, issued a statement detailing the violence suffered by women and girls during attacks by Janjaweed militias against villages in Darfur.Ms. Ertürk also recommended that Khartoum ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the rights of women in Africa.Such a move would start a dialogue about how to improve legal protection for the rights of Sudanese women, she said.

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