UN to send rights expert to Sudan

27th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN said Friday that it will send a representative to Sudan to assess the country's human rights situation, including the consequences of recent clashes in the disputed Abyei region.

Mohamed Chande Othman, the UN's independent human rights expert, said in a statement that he "will focus in particular on the arrests and detentions in the north (and) the armed confrontations that have taken place between the (southern army) and armed militia groups."

He added that during his May 31 to June 8 visit he will assess "the ongoing conflict in Darfur and the deteriorating situation in Abyei."

A south Sudanese official on Friday said that more than 150,000 people have fled Abyei since northern forces seized the border area claimed by both Muslim north and the largely Christian south.

Abyei did not participate in a January referendum where southerners voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence from the north.

Deciding who will control the contested and fertile region is one of the key issues to be resolved before the south officially becomes an independent state in July.

Othman will meet with officials from both the north and south as well as diplomats and rights groups, the statement said.

He will also head to Darfur, where a long-running conflict between rebels and Khartoum continues, despite a significant decline in violence in recent years.

© 2011 AFP

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