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Ban Ki-moon to hold Darfur crisis talks with head of African Union

Ban Ki-moon to hold Darfur crisis talks with head of African Union

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will hold talks on Monday with the head of the African Union (AU) in a bid to generate momentum for the peace process in Darfur, where the planned deployment of a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force has stalled amid differences with the Sudanese Government.

Alpha Oumar Konaré, Chairperson of the AU Commission, will be at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday and Tuesday for talks with Mr. Ban and with the two organizations’ special envoys for the Darfur crisis, Jan Eliasson of the UN and Salim Ahmed Salim of the AU.

UN spokesperson Marie Okabe said today that Mr. Ban and Mr. Konaré are expected to brief the Security Council on Monday afternoon on the latest developments regarding the conflict engulfing Darfur, where Government forces and allied Janjaweed militias have been fighting rebel groups.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million others displaced from their homes in the fighting, which has led to the destruction of entire villages. There are increasing fears that the conflict is spilling over into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR).

Monday’s talks will take place less than a week after a technical-level meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between the UN, the AU and the Sudanese Government to finalize the measures for the UN “heavy support package” to the current AU peacekeeping mission known as AMIS.

The heavy support package is the second phase of the three-step process culminating in the eventual deployment of the hybrid UN-AU force of approximately 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers.

Under the plan, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is currently providing AMIS with a “light support package” that includes police advisers, civilian staff and additional resources and technical support. The heavy support package discussed this week in Addis Ababa will feature several hundred UN personnel assisting AMIS.

At a mini-summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month with the AU and the UN, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir agreed to re-double efforts to resolve the Darfur conflict and on “the shared need to move expeditiously ahead” with the hybrid operation. But Sudan later voiced reservations about the plan leading to the hybrid force.