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IMF chief visits Darfur refugee camp in Chad

5/20/2005 8:54am


N'DJAMENA, Chad, May 20, 2005 (AP) -- The International Monetary Fund's chief Rodrigo de Rato on Friday visited a camp sheltering thousands of refugees from Sudan's western Darfur region to see for himself the humanitarian crisis unleashed by civil war in the neighboring country.

At least 200,000 Sudanese live in awful conditions in eastern Chad after fleeing a conflict between rebels and pro-government forces in Darfur, the scene of one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

At least 180,000 people have died in Darfur -- many from hunger and disease -- and about 2 million others have been forced to flee their homes since the conflict began in February 2003.

It erupted when rebels took up arms against what they saw as years of state neglect and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin. The government is accused of responding with a counterinsurgency campaign in which the Arab Janjaweed militia committed wide-scale abuses against the African population.

Rato is on the last leg of his four-nation tour of Africa to discuss the Fund's role at a time of intensified international interest in the continent.

In Chad, he discussed the challenges of transparency and accountability in Africa's newest oil producer, which is struggling to combat widespread poverty.

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