Secretary-General Kofi Annan will meet Security Council members on Monday to discuss the situation in Sudan, especially its war-torn region of Darfur, where tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in the past two years and almost two million others forced from their homes.
Mr. Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters today that he wants to focus on Darfur given the urgency of the situation on the ground, where deadly clashes between Government forces, allied militias and rebel groups continue.
UN officials have estimated that as many as four million Sudanese will need emergency aid by the middle of the year because of the conflict in Darfur, which began in early 2003 when rebels took up arms, partly in protest against the distribution of economic resources.
A commission of inquiry into the Darfur conflict, appointed last year by Mr. Annan, found that while genocide had not occurred, Government forces and allied militias had engaged in war crimes and crimes against humanity. It also found credible evidence that rebels were responsible for possible war crimes. The inquiry recommended the perpetrators be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.
Meanwhile, the UN's top humanitarian official has spent the day in southern Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are poised to return to their homes following the recent end of the 21-year civil war in that part of Africa's largest nation.
Jan Egeland, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the Emergency Relief Coordinator, travelled to the town of Rumbek, where he met officials from UN aid agencies and from partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Mr. Egeland also held talks with representatives of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), a rebel group that will be integrated into the government as a result of January's peace deal ending the conflict. Mr. Egeland will spend more time in southern Sudan before heading to Darfur to assess developments there.
Last month Mr. Annan told the Security Council that the UN peacekeeping mission proposed for southern Sudan will require more than $1 billion in funding in its first year.