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Amnesty Int'l Leader Irene Khan to Visit Darfur - 2004-09-14

After months of waiting for permission from Sudan's government, a senior Amnesty International official has begun a week-long tour of the country's war-torn Darfur region.

Amnesty International's Secretary-General Irene Khan and her delegation plan to interview displaced people living in camps, local officials, aid workers and others in Darfur to get a picture of the human rights situation there.

The delegation also aims to discuss its findings with the Sudanese government in an attempt to push for the disarmament and demobilization of a pro-government militia said to be committing many atrocities.

Amnesty International spokeswoman Teresa Richardson says Darfur's humanitarian situation has been well documented. "The human rights issues need to be recognized, too," she said. "There's a great need for security, and for those human rights issues to actually be part of the international community attention that's taking place."

Ms Richardson says her organization has been wanting to go to Darfur for months, but it was only recently that the Sudanese government granted the necessary visas.

Amnesty International says the 18-month-old conflict in Darfur has displaced more than one million people, killed 30,000, and destroyed hundreds of villages. The group says thousands of women and girls have also been raped.