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UN Humanitarian Chief in Sudan for Meeting With Uganda Rebels

The United Nations humanitarian chief is in southern Sudan for a meeting with the elusive leader of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army to discuss humanitarian issues.

The Lord's Resistance Army has waged a 20-year rebellion against the Ugandan government in which thousands of people have died and more than a million have been displaced.

Rebel leader Joseph Kony has eluded capture by the Ugandan government for two decades. The International Criminal Court in The Hague wants Kony to stand trial for war crimes.

U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland traveled with a delegation that includes southern Sudan's vice president, Riek Machar, to meet with Kony.

The government of southern Sudan has mediated a cease-fire between the Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan government.

U.N. Humanitarian Officer for Sudan David Del Conte in Khartoum tells VOA why the meeting with Egeland is important.

"The impact of the LRA in northern Uganda and southern Sudan has been quite dramatic," he said. "So, there is a desire on the part of Mr. Egeland to bring up points of concern with the LRA, particularly as it relates to the ongoing peace talks with the mediation of the government of southern Sudan."

Egeland has called upon the LRA to release women and children who have been abducted from their villages.

Kony is a self-proclaimed mystic, who says he wants Uganda to be governed under the principles of the Ten Commandments.

LRA fighters are accused of committing atrocities that include the killing, kidnapping and mutilation of civilians.

Peace talks between the Ugandan government and the LRA began in June, but have stalled frequently.

The rebels have said they will not sign a peace deal unless the charges from the International Criminal Court are dropped.

The LRA has said it suspects the talks are a ruse, aimed at drawing Kony out of hiding and capturing him.

Mr. Egeland arrived in Sudan on Friday for visits to the southern Sudanese capital of Juba and Sudan's embattled Darfur region.