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Darfur: UN Special Envoy arrives in Sudan’s capital to boost peace efforts

Darfur: UN Special Envoy arrives in Sudan’s capital to boost peace efforts

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for Darfur has arrived in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on the second stage of a mission promoting United Nations efforts to find a permanent solution to a conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced some 2.5 million others in Darfur.

Jan Eliasson, Swedish foreign minister and a former president of the UN General Assembly, arrived from talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, headquarters of the African Union (AU) to discuss steps required to reach “a durable solution” on the basis of the Darfur Peace Agreement, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

That agreement was signed last May between the Sudanese Government and some but not all of the rebel movements who took up arms in 2003 in an effort to secure greater autonomy and development for Darfur, an arid region about the size of France.

Mr. Ban has called the Darfur crisis one of his top priorities. The overall aim is to deploy a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur, made up of 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers. At the moment there is only an over-stretched AU force of 7,000 there.

Currently, there are several dozen uniformed UN personnel in Darfur under the initial phase of the hybrid plan. The second stage involves fielding some 1,800 military personnel in specialized units such as transport, engineering, logistics and medical experts. The third phase would culminate in the hybrid force’s deployment.

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) today reported several recent incidents in Darfur, including the bombing by a Government plane of two villages and a Government attack on forces which had not signed the peace accord.

Turning to another once war-torn part of the country, UNMIS today congratulated the people on the second anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of civil war between North and South Sudan. UNMIS head of mission Tayé-Brook Zerihoun represented the UN in the celebration ceremonies held in Juba, the southern regional capital.

“There are daunting challenges ahead as implementation of the CPA enters a new, more complex phase that will require the redoubled commitment of both the parties and the international community,” UNMIS said in a statement, citing as priorities the timely redeployments of armed forces and the integration or dissolution of other armed groups.

It also said demarcation of the North-South boundary must begin in earnest, electoral legislation must be adopted for mid-term polls, and more must be done to ensure that people across Sudan reap the tangible dividends of peace and development.

“UNMIS remains committed to assisting the parties to the CPA and the people of Sudan in meeting these challenges and achieving a full, effective, and timely implementation of all aspects of the CPA,” the mission said.