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International Observers Monitor Sudan Cease-Fire - 2002-04-05

A first team of international observers has arrived in Sudan's Nuba Mountains to monitor a cease-fire agreement between the government and southern rebels. Nine members of the International Monitoring Unit arrived in the Nuba Mountains Thursday, the first contingent of a team that will number 50 by the end of the month, according to a Western diplomat.

The team of monitors will be comprised of international military, ex-military and civilian personnel. The team will monitor compliance with a US Swiss-brokered cease-fire for the Nuba Mountains, signed in January. The accord is a humanitarian one to allow the Nuba people to receive emergency relief for the first time in more than a decade.

The Nuba region of central Sudan has been devastated by government bombing since civil war broke out in 1983 between rebels in the mainly Christian south and the Islamic government in the north.

The international monitors will set up camps at four key sites to report on any cease-fire violations. These are the points where the largest number of troops are stationed.

A Joint Military Commission, made up of government and rebel representatives, will jointly decide which humanitarian and military supply flights should be granted access to the area.

The Nuba Mountains cease-fire is one of four confidence building measures proposed by former US Senator John Danforth last December. The cease-fire has largely been observed, and large numbers of displaced Nuba have started returning to the area, according to the Western diplomat.

A team of international experts will fly into Khartoum Tuesday to begin two months research into slavery allegations. Their report is due in May.

An agreement to bring an end to attacks on civilians was signed last week.