UN, Sudan agree on importance of deploying Darfur force

1 Dec 2008

UN, Sudan agree on importance of deploying Darfur force

8 December – Representatives of the United Nations and the Government of Sudan today issued a joint statement stressing the importance of deploying the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and urging international support for this effort.

Both delegations “recognized that UNAMID would play a critical role in bringing peace and stability to Darfur” and agreed on the importance of setting up the force, according to the statement released in Lisbon following a meeting in the margins of the European Union-AU summit.

Attending the summit was a high-level UN delegation headed by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and including the UN High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and Small Island Developing States, Cheick Sidi Diarra, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet and Deputy Chef de Cabinet Kim Won-Soo.

Participants provided clarification “in some areas and identified a number of other areas where technical clarity was required to ensure that effective preparations for and deployment of the AU-UN Mission could continue.”

The UN and Khartoum agreed on the importance of addressing and resolving these issues “transparently, expeditiously and in the appropriate forum, as part of their collaboration regarding deployment of UNAMID.”

Noting critical gaps in the force capabilities, particularly military aviation, the statement called on the international community to provide the necessary equipment.

“The Government of Sudan and the United Nations emphasized their commitment to the ongoing and intensive technical effort which would be required for the timely deployment of UNAMID,” they said.

UNAMID is due to take over next month from the existing but under-resourced AU mission (known as AMIS) trying to quell the fighting in Darfur between rebels, Government forces and allied militias that has left at least 200,000 people dead and more than 2.2 million others displaced since 2003.

But the hybrid force lacks offers for crucial force units. It is short one heavy and one medium transport unit, three military utility aviation units and one light helicopter unit, while an earlier pledge for one reconnaissance company has been withdrawn.

Ms. Migiro told the meeting that only “the early deployment of an effective, robust peacekeeping force” can result in greater security and genuine progress in the peace talks.

“But this requires capability on the ground,” she said. “Most urgently, it requires helicopters. In the past weeks and months, the Secretary-General has contacted, personally, every possible contributor of helicopters – in the Americas, in Europe, in Asia. And yet not one helicopter has been made available.

“In Europe alone there are thousands of military helicopters of different types. Large numbers of helicopters also exist in the key Asian powers, and in the Americas. Any assistance the governments in these regions can offer would be profoundly appreciated, not least by the people of Darfur.”

The Deputy Secretary-General also told the gathering that the UN is working closely with the AU, the EU and others to “develop coordinated support for an African peace and security architecture, including an African standby force.”

She added that the world body is stepping up its efforts in conflict prevention, promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes and enhancing adherence to the rule of law.

(United Nations News Service)