The Security Council today decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission focussed on southern Sudan (UNMIS) until 24 September 2006, requesting that Secretary-General Kofi Annan also expedite the planning for a transformation of the African Union force in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region to a UN-led operation.
Through the unanimously adopted resolution, the Council also requested that UNMIS intensify its efforts to coordinate closely with the African force, known as AMIS, during the transitional period.
During that period, the Council asked the Secretary-General to plan ways in which UNMIS can reinforce the peace efforts in Darfur through additional assistance to AMIS in logistics, mobility, communications and other areas, and to present a range of options for a UN operation in Darfur to the Council by 24 April 2006.
As part of those options, the Council requested recommendations for dealing more effectively with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Uganda-based group which the Council condemned for its attacks on civilians and other human rights abuses.
Prior to the adoption of the resolution, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the head of UN peacekeeping, said that despite the obstacles, planning the transition to a UN operation in Darfur was going ahead.
“Yes, the train has left the station, in the sense that there is a sense of urgency,” he said. “We are going to work very closely with the African Union we are going to work also with the Government of Sudan and also to strengthen the Abuja process,” he added, referring to the peace negotiations taking place in Nigeria.
He stressed that a political agreement was primary, both for peace in Darfur and for the success of a UN mission.
Asked if the Government of Sudan could still stop the UN mission, he said that obviously it could only go ahead with the consent of the Government of Sudan, but emphasized that it was crucial that the Government understand that the continuing violence could not be left unchecked.
In the conflict between the Government, militias and rebel forces, close to 200,000 people have already died, with over two million displaced and much of the population terrorized by marauders.