UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he was "shocked and humbled" by a visit to a refugee camp in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region.
Ban Ki-Moon says rival factions need to hold talks
Mr Ban was cheered by refugees at the camp, but earlier he had faced a group of protesters at the UN's compound.
He said plans to send a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force next year were "on good track", but urged the government to engage rebel factions in talks.
At least 200,000 people have died more than 2m have been displaced since 2003.
The Khartoum administration and pro-government Arab militias are accused of war crimes against the black African population.
'Poverty and hardship'
Thousands of refugees at Al Salaam camp, near El Fasher in North Darfur state, chanted "Welcome, welcome Ban Ki-Moon".
The South Korean diplomat told the crowds: "We must bring peace and development. We must protect human rights. We must help all of you return to your homes and lands."
After visiting the camp, which holds 48,000 people, Mr Ban said he had wanted to use his position to give the refugees hope.
"I was so shocked and humbled when I visited [the] camps. I was shocked at the poverty and hardship all these tens of thousands of people were undergoing," he said.
The BBC's Laura Trevelyan, travelling with the secretary general, said he chatted to children and looked at their drawings.
The welcome was in stark contrast to his earlier visit to the UN compound in El Fasher, when protesters gathered shouting anti-UN slogans.
Most of the refugees in Darfur are black Africans - although reports suggested those who staged the demo were chanting pro-government slogans in Arabic.
Mr Ban was due to meet leaders of a number of groups living in refugee camps at El Fasher, but changed his arrangements after the protests.
Our correspondent said the protests were an illustration of how complicated the Darfur situation is.
Correspondents say Mr Ban decided to visit because he wanted to understand the difficult conditions into which the world's biggest peacekeeping force would eventually be deployed.
He also wants to encourage the Sudanese government, which has finally accepted peacekeepers, while condemning the killings and getting political talks going.