The security situation in Sudan’s Darfur region remains volatile as armed forces supported by militia attacked two villages in North Darfur this week and an African Union (AU) vehicle travelling through the region was assaulted and stolen, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported today.
Attackers stormed the village of Likalik and its market area and destroyed its source of water as they attacked the water pump area and killed many animals at the site, the mission reported. On Monday, the village of Al Amin came under assault and its market was raided and huts were burned. The same day, an armed group attacked a vehicle of the AU peacekeeping force, injuring AU soldiers and stealing the car.
The UN Mission was deployed to support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed about a year ago in Nairobi between the Government of Sudan and the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). It also has a mandate from the UN Security Council to provide some support to the AU peacekeeping mission, known as AMIS, in the Darfur region in western Sudan.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, told a news conference held in Khartoum yesterday that the AU Peace and Security Council will meet March 3 at the ministerial level to explore how its security forces might make a shift to a proposed peacekeeping force supervised by the UN. The AU Peace and Security Council had expressed its support for the transition at an Ambassadorial level meeting held in January.
Mr. Pronk, who will attend the ministerial meeting, said the AU has not yet made a decision abut the transition. The UN, as directed by the Security Council in the form of a presidential statement, is consulting with the AU and all parties now at the negotiating table in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. The UN wants to ensure that the AU can stay as long as possible in Darfur, hopefully to the end of the year.
He said he hopes a pledging conference now being organized for the AU forces can be held by 8 March. “That has always been the UN position and is still our position…more money, more resources, for a long period for the AU in Darfur,” he added.
With the AU’s peacekeeping force in the Darfur region funded only until the end of March, the Security Council early this month commended the mission for its successful deployment and asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan to draw up a range of contingency plans for a possible transition of operations to the UN.