Senior UNAU envoy briefs team seeking to defuse tensions between Sudan and

Mr. Anyidoho, the UN-AU Principal Deputy Joint Special Representative in Darfur, briefed the team, led by former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, on their arrival in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state and the headquarters of the AU-UN hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID).The delegation was informed about the latest political, security, military, police, humanitarian and human rights developments in Darfur, where up to 300,000 people are thought to have died and at least 2.7 million displaced from their homes due to fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen since 2003.The conflict in the western Sudanese region has spilled over into eastern Chad, where Sudanese escaping the Darfur conflict comprise the majority of the estimated 315,000 refugees in that area.The AU fact-finding team was set up in the context of AU efforts to normalize the relations between Khartoum and N’djamena, following Sudan’s announcement in May that it was cutting off ties with Chad, claiming that it has helped Darfurian rebels attack the Sudanese capital.The team also paid a courtesy call on the wali, or governor, of North Darfur, before travelling to El Geneina in West Darfur and then to Khartoum.Meanwhile, UNAMID reports that the security situation in its area of responsibility is relatively calm. However, banditry and rape are still prevalent, and UNAMID forces are working closely with Sudanese police and rebel factions to combat the situation.The hybrid force has been in place since January, succeeding an earlier, under-resourced AU operation. But only about 10,000 military personnel have been deployed so far, well short of the roughly 26,000 troops, military observers and police officers expected when UNAMID reaches full deployment. 6 November 2008The senior United Nations-African Union envoy Henry Anyidoho met today with an AU fact-finding team that is visiting Darfur as part of a bid to defuse escalating tensions between Sudan and neighbouring Chad.

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