UN staff and others visit displaced camp to see whether Sudan is

The three-day joint mission to Darfur is also probing the overall security situation and whether it is safe for some of the estimated 1.2 million IDPs to return to their homes.UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters today that the verification mission this morning visited an IDP camp at Nyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur. Heavy rains in the region are making it difficult for the group to travel quickly.The mission has been sent as experts from Security Council member countries continue discussions on a draft resolution on Sudan that aims to end the attacks of the militia and restore security.UN relief agencies say they remain concerned that the Sudanese Government is pressuring IDPs, sometimes with promises of food and supplies, to either return to their home villages or to move to other relocation sites.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that while there have been not any signs of forced relocation during the past week in Darfur, Sudanese officials continue to talk of an imminent return.Janjaweed militias are still acting with impunity in some areas of Darfur, and UN relief agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have suspended operations in certain areas because of insecurity, according to OCHA.About 1.2 million people live as IDPs and at least 180,000 others are refugees in neighbouring Chad because of the Janjaweed attacks and the fighting between Government forces and two rebel groups.The observer mission has been organized under the auspices of the Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM), which was set up after the UN and Sudan signed a communiqué on 3 July outlining their commitments to alleviate what has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.On 2 August the mission is scheduled to report its findings to a meeting of the JIM, which will be attended by Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan.Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has arranged a training programme for Sudanese police officers to help them investigate cases of child rape, which is reported to be widespread in Darfur.Two Jordanian police officers spent three days training Sudanese officers on sensitive techniques for interviewing children who have suffered some form of sexual assault.Describing the training scheme as a first step, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said rape should never be excused as inevitable during times of war.”While insecurity is still rampant in Darfur, the Government of Sudan has a responsibility to protect its women and girls from the extraordinary brutality they have endured for far too long,” she said.In a separate development, the World Health Organization (WHO) will tomorrow start a polio vaccination campaign in North Darfur. read more