BERLIN, July 08, 2004 (AP) — German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer will travel to Sudan this weekend for talks on the crisis in the Darfur region, his ministry said Thursday.
Fischer, who is “very concerned about the humanitarian and human rights situation in Darfur,” will travel Sunday to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, a ministry statement said. Fischer will return to Germany on Monday, but his deputy, Kerstin Mueller, will continue to Darfur.
U.N. officials and human rights groups have accused Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir’s government of backing Arab militiamen – known as the “Janjaweed,” or horsemen – in a violent campaign to expel African farmers from Darfur.
U.N. officials have called the situation in Darfur the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and say that thousands of people have been killed and more than a million others have been forced from their homes. Most of the refugees have taken shelter in makeshift camps along the Chad-Sudan border.
Sudan denies the allegations, but last week el-Bashir promised U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell – both of whom were visiting the country – that his government would disarm the militia.