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Ban Ki-moon reports ‘steady progress’ towards deploying hybrid force in Darfur

Ban Ki-moon reports ‘steady progress’ towards deploying hybrid force in Darfur

The United Nations is making “steady progress” towards setting up its landmark hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur with the African Union (AU), but complex logistical challenges lie ahead and Member States need to provide military contributions before further benchmarks for deployment can be met, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the mission says.

The report on the deployment of the force, known as UNAMID, notes that the UN and AU have established a multidisciplinary transition team in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state and the future headquarters of the mission. The team has already begun implementing deployment plans on the ground.

But given the nature of Darfur, a vast, impoverished and remote region on Sudan’s western flank, “enormously complex logistical operations” are still necessary before deployment, Mr. Ban writes.

The construction of safe accommodation and office facilities for UNAMID staff that meet UN safety standards will be critical, he states, adding that so too will be the transfer of equipment and assets from the existing AU mission in Darfur, known as AMIS.

Mr. Ban stresses that UN Member States must now step up and urgently provide the outstanding military contributions that are necessary for UNAMID to fulfil its mandate.

The Security Council authorized the creation of UNAMID on 31 July in a resolution that called for a force of nearly 20,000 military personnel and more than 6,000 police officers. It will be the largest peacekeeping force in the world.

The force is being sent in to try to quell the violence in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million others forced to leave their homes since 2003 because of fighting among rebel groups, Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed.

Violence has erupted again in recent weeks, and in his report Mr. Ban voices deep concern about the deadly clashes between tribes in South Darfur state, attacks against local police in South Darfur and Government attacks against villages in North Darfur and South Darfur, all in the past month.

The Secretary-General also calls on the Sudanese Government to facilitate expeditious land acquisitions so that UNAMID can construct staff accommodation and to ensure smooth visa arrangements for visits of delegations from UNAMID troop and police contributors.

Last month, a three-day joint planning session of the UN and AU concluded that it is vital “to create an early and visible improvement in the security situation in Darfur” as authority transfers from AMIS to UNAMID to ensure that public confidence in the new mission is enhanced from the start.

To achieve that, the UN and AU have agreed to deploy an early-effect capability in Darfur ahead of the transfer of authority date of 1 January next year. The capability will include one infantry battalion, four reserve companies, up to 60 liaison officers and military aviation resources, as well as one formed police unit and 40 individual police officers.