Since their first deployment here, UNAMID’s military personnel, from commanding officers to field soldiers, have been working to contribute to peace and stability in Darfur, giving their time, energy and, in some cases, their lives. This book, Marching Toward Peace, is designed to put a human face on these military women and men, who, while sometimes seen as stoic or even menacing figures, are, in the end, flesh-and-blood people working in a challenging environment to achieve a singular objective: peace in Darfur.
On this objective, measurable progress has been made during the past few years—in high-level peace talks and in local-level mediations—but tensions in Darfur continue to emerge from competition over natural resources, generations-old tribal feuds and clashes between Government forces and armed movements. Caught in these ongoing conflicts are innocent civilians; not a single person living here has been unaffected by the violence.
While the situation has improved in many ways since the beginning of the clashes more than one decade ago, violence in some parts of Darfur has escalated, presenting a challenge not only for the civilians living here but also for UNAMID’s peacekeepers. And while there are signs of recovery and development emerging across Darfur, years of conflict have resulted in hundreds of thousands of people still enduring the hardships of life in temporary camps.
Peace in Darfur remains an interest shared by everybody—including the Government of Sudan and, above all, the longsuffering people of Darfur. In this context, as this book illustrates, UNAMID’s military personnel have been working toward their mandate-driven objectives of protecting civilians, facilitating humanitarian assistance and supporting the peace process, which is now entering a Darfur-wide dialogue phase.
This book, published in May 2014 to coincide with the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, is designed to show the many dimensions of the lives of UNAMID’s military women and men as they carry out their mandated tasks. This book serves not only as an homage to these soldiers working to support Darfur’s recovery, but also as a tribute to the military personnel who have paid the ultimate price in the region’s journey to peace.