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UN Human Rights Team Will Complete Mission Outside of Sudan

A United Nations human rights team says it will complete its Darfur mission outside of Sudan after being denied visas to enter the country.

In a statement Wednesday, the team announced "it can no longer allow the continued uncertainty regarding visas from Sudan" to interfere with its work.

The six-member U.N. delegation was scheduled to arrive in Khartoum Tuesday to investigate alleged atrocities in Darfur. But a Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said his government objected to the presence of Guyanese official Bertrand Ramcharan on the team.

Ramcharan, a former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has in the past referred to the conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region as genocide - a term rejected by Khartoum.

Experts estimate at least 200,000 people have died in fighting between Darfur rebels and Arab militias backed by the Sudanese government.

On Monday, the U.N.'s special envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, and his African Union counterpart, Salim Ahmed Salim, arrived in Khartoum to try to revive Darfur's peace process.

They say they will hold meetings with signatories and non-signatories of the Darfur peace agreement signed last year.

The U.N. human rights delegation that was barred from Sudan Tuesday was created by an emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in December. The fact-finding team is to report its findings to the council next month.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.