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Ban Ki-moon sends new letter to Sudanese president on peacekeeping force for Darfur

Ban Ki-moon sends new letter to Sudanese president on peacekeeping force for Darfur

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has written a new letter to Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir detailing a proposed United Nations-African Union (AU) hybrid force of up to 24,000 personnel to help resolve the deadly conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, which has already killed over 200,000 people and uprooted 2.5 million more.

“The letter is in line with our agreement to proceed in transparency and share with the Sudanese Government the joint AU-UN planning on a strengthened peacekeeping presence in Darfur,” spokesperson Michele Montas told a news briefing at UN Headquarters in New York today.

The UN and AU have concluded that between 19,000 to 20,000 troops, together with 3,700 police officers and 19 formed police units will be required under the present situation on the ground and the two will now proceed to develop detailed operational plans. AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konaré is expected to send Mr. Bashir an identical letter.

The hybrid force represents the final phase of a three-phase plan agreed to by the UN, AU and Sudanese Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in November to help end the fighting between the Sudanese Government, allied militias and rebels seeking greater autonomy, which broke out in 2003.

The first phase, a $21-million light support package already underway, provides for supplying UN military advisers, police officers and civilian officials as well as equipment to the existing under-staffed AU monitoring mission in Darfur (AMIS).

Mr. Ban has already written to Mr. Bashir on the second phase, which includes the provision of additional personnel and equipment, but has not yet received a reply. Mr. Ban’s Special Envoy for Darfur Jan Eliasson noted to reporters yesterday that the Sudanese had accepted in principle the hybrid force.

Meanwhile, the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) today condemned the killing of two AU soldiers and the injuring of a third in the town of Gereida, in South Darfur. It voiced deep concern at “the repeated attacks targeting those who are assisting the people of Darfur, in particular AMIS and humanitarian workers.”

UNMIS called on all parties to respect the neutral and impartial status of AMIS and recalled that any attack against AU personnel was a serious violation of international law and relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.