African Union Mission in Sudan to transfer authority on 31 December 2007
28 December 2007-- The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) will formally take over from the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) on 31 December 2007 in a ceremony at the new mission’s El Fasher headquarters.
At full strength, the new mission, authorized by the United Nations Security Council on 31 July 2007, will be the Organization’s largest peacekeeping operation, with some 20,000 troops and more than 6,000 police and civilian staff.
Over 9,000 uniformed personnel are currently on the ground, including 7,000 troops and 1,200 police serving with AMIS, which was established in 2004 to help bring peace to Darfur, as well as United Nations soldiers and police officers serving as part of the United Nations “heavy” and “light support packages” deployed to support AMIS over the last year. More than 50 African Union troops have lost their lives in Darfur since 2004, with 12 killed as the result of an attack at Haskanita, South Darfur, in September 2007.
The transfer of authority, which is in accordance with the timeline specified in Security Council resolution 1769 (2007), will comprise a signing ceremony between both parties in the presence of a representative of the Sudanese Government. In addition, African Union troops will exchange their green headgear for the United Nations blue beret.
Headed by Rodolphe Adada, African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur, UNAMID is mandated to protect civilians where possible, facilitate humanitarian assistance and help provide a secure environment in which peace can take root.
There are presently 10 infantry battalions on the ground in Darfur from Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal. They are complemented by a Kenyan Military Police unit, a force Headquarters Company from Gambia, a Chinese engineering company, more than 1,000 individual police officers from over 25 countries and a formed police unit from Bangladesh. Troops from Egypt, Pakistan and Ethiopia, plus a formed police unit from Nepal are expected to deploy over the next two months.
At the same time, United Nations officials have cautioned that some of the critical equipment necessary to support the troops is still lacking -- particularly air assets such as helicopters -- and have appealed to Member States to close that critical gap.
The deployment of UNAMID is complemented by joint efforts on the political front. Jan Eliasson, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, and Salim Ahmed Salim, the African Union Special Envoy for Darfur, are pursuing a political settlement to the Darfur crisis through negotiations aimed at achieving a peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Darfur rebel movements.
(United Nations press release)