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U.N. considers Darfur after partial Sudan peace agreement


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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- A day after a peace agreement marked the end of fighting in southern Sudan, attention has turned to the still embattled western part of the country.

A spokeswoman for Kofi Annan said the U.N. secretary-general will focus on stemming the fighting in western Sudan, where the lives of hundreds of thousands of people are threatened.

Annan has been flooded with requests from people across the world beseeching him to provide emergency assistance to end the killing in Darfur, spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters Thursday.

"The secretary-general fully shares the concerns of the public at large. ... He is following the situation in Darfur very closely and with great concern," she said.

Next week, Annan will send his recommendations to the U.N. Security Council regarding implementation of the peace agreement signed Wednesday in Naivasha, Kenya, by the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement, Okabe said.

Annan will also press for a humanitarian ceasefire in Darfur to be extended, and is urging the Sudanese government to intervene to halt human-rights violations in that region, she said.

Meanwhile, David Lambo, director of the Africa bureau of the U.N.'s High Commission for Refugees, said Thursday that Wednesday's agreement will "bring closer the day when southern Sudan's 500,000 refugees and more than three million displaced persons can go home."

Also Thursday, the president of the Security Council, Pakistan Ambassador Munir Akram, said that, with the agreement affecting the southern region now signed, the council may take further action elsewhere.

The U.N. estimates that 30,000 people have been killed in a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur.

On Wednesday, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland called the situation there "the biggest humanitarian drama of our time."

"This is the most dramatic race against the clock that we have anywhere in the world at the moment," he said. "If we lose, hundreds of thousands of women and children, mostly, will perish."

Egeland said the U.N. and other relief agencies were "late" to recognize the scope of the humanitarian problem in Darfur.


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