UNITED NATIONS — International humanitarian groups lobbied the UN Security Council to ensure that human rights issues in conflict-ridden Darfur are not ignored during its Tuesday debate on the upcoming referendum in Sudan that could split Africa's largest county in two.
Representatives of the aid organizations Oxfam and World Vision, as well as Human Rights Watch, told reporters Monday they worry about ongoing attacks on Darfur civilians, access for humanitarian aid, and protections of voters' rights during the balloting.
The Security Council is holding a meeting Tuesday on the referendum to decide if southern Sudan should secede from the nation's north and will be pressing to ensure that it takes place on schedule on Jan. 9. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is to address the 15-member council, along with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other ministers.
The UN has been encouraging a timely, peaceful vote. Polls show the overwhelming majority of southerners favor independence.