Secretary-General Ban outlines timetable towards full UNAMID deployment
7 October 2008 – The “severely stretched” United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, which has struggled to find enough countries willing to supply troops and equipment, should now reach two-thirds of its full deployment by the end of this year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a press conference in New York today.
Some 85 per cent of the 26,000 troops and police officers expected when UNAMID is at full capacity should then be in place by next March, “despite the many obstacles,” Mr. Ban told journalists.
Only about 10,000 uniformed personnel are currently deployed in Darfur.
Senior UN officials have repeatedly called on countries to provide the necessary blue helmets and equipment, particularly helicopters, so that UNAMID can carry out its mandate.
Mr. Ban said today that the first Egyptian and Ethiopian battalions will be deployed by the end of this month and he has spoken with the leaders of Thailand and Ukraine about contributing troops and equipment.
“Yesterday I spoke with the Prime Minister of Thailand [Somchai Wongsawat] with a view toward securing the deployment of a Thai battalion in Darfur,” he said. “As you know, the Government of Sudan has approved the deployment of both Thai and Nepalese military units. It was a very positive conversation and I am assured that the Thai Cabinet will move ahead as soon as possible.”
Turning to Ukraine, the Secretary-General said he explored the possibility of deploying military helicopters and personnel during his meeting with President Viktor Yushchenko on the sidelines of the General Assembly’s high-level debate last month.
“We have had subsequent discussions with the Ukrainian Defence Minister [Yuriy Yekhanurov] in New York. These efforts are continuing. I expect the Government in Kiev to act soon.”
Mr. Ban warned that the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate.
“We are seeing increasing attacks on UN and international [aid] staff. The UNAMID mission is severely stretched.”
Yesterday a Nigerian soldier serving with UNAMID was killed following an ambush of a mission patrol in South Darfur state by 40 to 60 unknown attackers wearing civilian clothes. He was the ninth UN soldier to die in Darfur in the past three months.
The blue helmet, who was taking part in a nine-vehicle, 50-strong patrol between Nyala and Khor Abeche when the ambush occurred near Menawashei, died during his medical evacuation to Nyala.
UNAMID forces later captured one of the attackers and handed him to Sudanese Government police in Nyala, which is the South Darfur state capital.
UNAMID will investigate the cause and circumstances of the attack and added it was stepping up its patrols in the area near Menawashei.
(UN News Service)