Pan-African team heads to Darfur

The newly established Pan-African Parliament will send a fact-finding mission to Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

    PAP is to check the situation 'on the ground' in Darfur

    Pan-African Parliament (PAP) president Gertrude Mongella on Thursday said the mission would examine "what is happening on the ground, who is doing what and how much is being done by the Sudanese government, the international community and the African Union".


    The mission will then report back to the body, Mongella said at PAP headquarters in Midrand, 20km from Johannesburg.


    "We will look into the report and see if there are any urgent issues to be taken care of before the next meeting of the house," she said.


    Rwandan massacre


    Mongella cited the 1994 Rwandan massacre, saying "no one moved while hundreds of thousands of people were being killed".


    "We will look into the report and see if there are any urgent issues to be taken care of before the next meeting of the house"

    Gertrude Mongella,
    PAP president

    "We don't want it to be repeated when we [parliamentarians] have taken an oath to defend the people of Africa," she said.


    Aid officials have said hundreds of people could be dying from preventable diseases every day in the camps in Darfur.


    The UN has labelled the Darfur crisis the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world today.


    Established in March by the African Union, the PAP has no powers to pass laws and has no budget for this year although the 265-seat assembly plans to evolve into a law-making body around 2009.


    UN team visit


    Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour accused Sudan of "failing" the people of Darfur and called for an international police presence to curb continued attacks on civilians in the troubled region.


    Arbour blamed Darfur on the
    Sudanese government

    Arbour, back from a visit to Darfur, told the UN Security Council on Thursday that the Sudanese

    government continued to convey neither a sense of urgency nor an acknowledgement of the magnitude of the human rights crisis in Darfur.


    "In short, my mission came away from Sudan gravely concerned that the government and its security forces, particularly the police and the judicial system, are failing the people of Darfur," she said.


    Arbour was accompanied on her trip by the UN secretary-general's special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Juan Mendez, who declined to follow the lead of US Secretary of State Colin Powell in calling the situation in Darfur as one of genocide.



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