Darfur: UN signs deal setting out terms of support to African Union peace mission

Darfur: UN signs deal setting out terms of support to African Union peace mission

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The United Nations and the African Union (AU) have signed a memorandum of understanding setting out the details of the support which the world body will give to the AU peacekeeping mission in the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur.

At a meeting on Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the two organizations signed a memorandum that follows the UN’s announcement earlier this year of a $21 million support package to the 7,000-strong African Union Mission in Sudan (known as AMIS).

The memorandum details the terms of command and control for the UN personnel, as well as accountability issues for the UN material assistance to AMIS, which is trying to halt the spiralling violence in the remote and impoverished Darfur region.

The support from the UN includes staff in public information, civil affairs, administration and finance, humanitarian coordination and mine action, as well as military staff officers and police advisers. Communications and night vision equipment are also being provided.

The signing ceremony comes as Secretary-General Kofi Annan awaits a letter from Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir regarding the agreement reached earlier this month with Khartoum on AMIS becoming a hybrid UN-AU force.

Speaking today to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Annan said he expected the letter would arrive either today or tomorrow.

“The letter has to be available before the African Union summit, which is taking place in Abuja on 29 November [Wednesday], where the leaders will be discussing the situation in Darfur, the deployment of troops, and hopefully endorse the agreement that we reached in Addis Ababa,” he said. “And so the Government’s response is urgent.”

The hybrid UN-AU operation will have about 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers, according to a communiqué issued after the meeting on 16 November in Addis Ababa between representatives of the UN, AU, Sudan, Security Council members and others.

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported today that Darfur continues to be plagued by attacks and security problems. In the latest attack, members of rebel groups which did not sign the Darfur Peace Agreement fought Sudanese armed forces yesterday near Abu Jabra in South Darfur state.

Meanwhile, the Security Council heard a closed-door briefing today on the sanctions on Sudan by Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece, the chairman of the Council’s sanctions committee for that country.

At least 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Darfur since 2003 as a result of the conflict between Government forces, allied militias and rebels seeking greater autonomy, and more than 2 million others have been displaced.