|Secretary-General Ban ki-moon
UNITED NATIONS, July 24 (KUNA) -- Secretary-General Ban ki-moon met on Tuesday with the Boston University Professor Farouk El-Baz who led the research into the reported underground water supplies in Darfur, Sudan, and the founder of the 1,000 wells initiative.
El-Baz is expected to travel next month to Sudan and join the UN Mission there and Sudanese geologists to conduct a survey of Darfur, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters at the daily press briefing.
An underground lake the size of North American Lake Erie, the tenth largest lake on Earth, was recently discovered beneath the windblown sands of Sudan's Darfur region.
Its mapped water source, experts said, may help to solve the conflict, which erupted in 2003 over water, between Arab nomads and the African farming population that has killed more than 200,000 people and affected at least four million others.
Identification of the lake's shorelines was done by geologist El-Baz, Director of Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing and Eman Ghoneim, a research professor at the center.
Called "1,000 Wells for Darfur," his initiative aims to create new groundwater resources to help establish peace and economic security in the region.
The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) plans to drill several wells for use by its peacekeeping forces.
In a related matter, Sudan on Tuesday rejected a draft resolution that would authorize the deployment of a UN-AU hybrid force, about 26,000 military and civilian personnel, in Darfur to make sure the Sudanese Government and the rebels implement the Darfur Peace Agreement they signed in May 2006.
Although the threat of "further measures" has been dropped from the draft, Sudanese envoy Abdelmahmoud Abelhaleem objected to its content.
"It's very ugly. It's worse than the first one," he told reporters. "The way they put this resolution will make the force fight the Sudanese army, it retains the same inflammatory language, the same condemnation," such as "strongly condemns." "They want to transport the Iraqi scenario to us," he added.
Qatari envoy Nassir Al-Nasser told reporters it is important to be careful when drafting the text because Khartoum's agreement is essential to have the resolution implemented.
British envoy Emyr Jones Parry told reporters "we changed the text quite considerably. The tonality has changed. Certain provisions have been altered considerably. There is less threatening language in there. It is more of a conciliatory text." "There is no wish on my part to be other than working in cooperation with the African Union and with the Government of Sudan. The last thing we want is a resolution which does not do the job," he stressed.
He said he and his French counterpart will sit with the Sudanese envoy later today to "reassure him as to what we intend and listen very carefully to what his concerns are." Andrew Natsios, the US Special Envoy for Sudan, told reporters that the peace keeping operation is a "means towards an end." He said Khartoum "should not have veto power over what happens. What is important now is we hold the Sudanese Government accountable to what they agreed to," in reference to Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir's agreement to the deployment of the hybrid force last month after receiving assurances from the UN and the AU that it is not an invading force. (end) sj.bs KUNA 242353 Jul 07NNNN