UN human rights group for Darfur

GENEVA - The new UN human rights watchdog, the Human Rights Council, agreed on Wednesday to send a high-level mission to Sudan's Darfur to investigate allegations of worsening abuses against civilians.

GENEVA - The new UN human rights watchdog, the Human Rights Council, agreed on Wednesday to send a high-level mission to Sudan's Darfur to investigate allegations of worsening abuses against civilians.

Outgoing UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said: "The decision sends a united message that the ongoing violence and killing in Darfur is unacceptable and must stop."

The move, seen as a way to increase international pressure on Khartoum to accept UN peacekeepers, coincided with a call from the US Sudan envoy, Andrew Natsios, for the country to act within the next week to help the UN bolster African Union forces.

Natsios said he had had productive talks with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and they had agreed on steps to halt violence.

Aid officials say more than 200000 people have died in the violence over the past three years.

Khartoum disputes the figure and blames rebel groups for violations. It had no immediate comment on the UN rights mission.

The Human Rights Council was launched in June as part of an UN reform initiative.

Under pressure to show it can act effectively on Darfur, the council left the chairman to name the five team members. It was a consensus deal agreed after two days of haggling. - Reuters

X