UN envoy heads to Uganda for talks on transit routes to Sudan

As the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) gears up for the eventual deployment of some 10,000 peacekeepers in the war-torn country, the top UN envoy there today heads to Uganda for talks with government officials on the possibility of opening transit routes and the pre-positioning of troops and equipment.Jan Pronk, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Sudan, will be in Kampala for day-long meetings with senior Ugandan officials discussing a range of issues, in particular UNMIS deployment of troops and equipment. For practical reasons, UNMIS troops and assets to be positioned in certain areas of southern Sudan will have to transit through neighbouring countries, particularly Uganda.A chief topic of Mr. Pronk’s discussions will be the opening of the Yei-Juba road, which is of strategic importance for all operations in southern Sudan – particularly humanitarian and relief work, as well as development projects.In late March, the Security Council voted unanimously to send 10,000 troops and more than 700 civilian police to southern Sudan for an initial period of six months to support the peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), which ended more than two decades of civil strife.