The Sudanese Government today announced its acceptance of the proposal for a hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping operation to be deployed to the violence-wracked Darfur region after the UN and AU issued clarifications about the mandate, structure, components and tasks of the force.
The agreement was reached during two days of high-level technical consultations between the UN, the AU and the Sudanese Government that wrapped up today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In the conclusions issued following the consultations, the Sudanese Government said it accepted the joint proposals on a hybrid force “in view of the explanations and clarifications provided by the AU and the UN.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed today’s positive conclusions and is looking forward to expeditiously implementing the hybrid force, his spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.
Asked whether Sudan’s acceptance of the hybrid force was unconditional, Ms. Montas noted Khartoum’s call for African troops and added that the UN had always planned to deploy a large number of African troops to the region, although this depended on availability.
She also said that some issues raised about land, water and deployment still needed to be hammered out with the Sudanese Government.
The UN and AU have outlined two options for the size of the force’s military component: under one plan, there would be 19,555 troops and under the other there would be 17,605 troops. The police component would require 3,772 officers.
The hybrid operation is the third phase of a three-step process to replace the existing but under-resourced AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), which has been unable to end the fighting in Darfur.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million others displaced from their homes since clashes erupted in 2003 between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias and rebel groups.
The planned hybrid force “would contribute considerably to the stabilization of the situation in Darfur in its political, humanitarian and security dimensions,” according to the conclusions, with the participants stressing that both the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council must adopt the necessary decisions and resolutions to authorize the implementation and operation of such a force.
The UN, AU and Sudan also underlined the need for an immediate comprehensive ceasefire, accompanied by an inclusive political process, as well as for troop-contributing countries and donors to step up and ensure the hybrid force can be implemented quickly.
Also today, a high-level committee comprising representatives of the UN, the Sudanese Government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the European Commission, met in Khartoum to discuss the latest progress on the humanitarian front in Darfur.
The participants welcomed the recent steps taken to streamline customs and immigration problems for aid workers, as well as in the recruitment of international staff and the establishment of a database to monitor implementation of a recent joint communiqué affecting their work.