Ban Ki-moon leads first meeting of UN task force on Darfur crisis

4 January 2007

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will today chair the first meeting of the United Nations-wide Darfur Task Force, a new grouping set up by the Organization to help guide and streamline efforts to end the spiralling humanitarian and security crisis in the strife-torn Sudanese region.

The Task Force includes the heads of the UN departments of peacekeeping, political affairs, public information, legal affairs, and safety and security, as well as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Special Adviser on Africa, Under-Secretary-General Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, and the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Méndez, are also part of the grouping.

Today’s inaugural gathering follows Mr. Ban’s meeting this morning with the UN envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, who recently travelled to Khartoum for talks with the Sudanese Government about accepting an eventual hybrid UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah and Jan Eliasson, the former General Assembly president and Swedish foreign minister who is acting as a separate UN envoy on the Darfur crisis, were both expected to take part in today’s Task Force meeting.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Eliasson will also meet with AU envoy Salim Ahmed Salim in New York tomorrow to discuss ways to end the bloodshed in Darfur, a remote and impoverished region roughly the size of France.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million others displaced from their homes since 2003 when clashes erupted between Government forces, allied militias and rebel groups seeking greater autonomy. The UN estimates that 4 million people now depend on humanitarian assistance.

Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir informed the UN late last month, following the visit by Mr. Ould-Abdallah, that his Government had agreed to the hybrid force, which will take over from the existing AU monitoring force – which is known by the acronym AMIS. The new force is expected to comprise about 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has reported that two AMIS personnel kidnapped during a carjacking early last month in Darfur – part of a wave of such incidents last year – remain missing. Some 118 vehicles were seized in 2006, according to the Mission, including five UN-marked vehicles.


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