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Darfur solution ‘cannot be piecemeal’ – Secretary-General Ban

Darfur solution ‘cannot be piecemeal’ – Secretary-General Ban

Only a comprehensive approach that deals with all the issues – from politics and security to economic development and the environment – will solve the Darfur conflict, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as he detailed his observations from his recent visit to the war-torn Sudanese region.

In an opinion column for The Washington Post, published in today’s edition, Mr. Ban said that his week-long trip to Sudan, Chad and Libya confirmed to him that the reality about Darfur is far more complicated than widely understood.

“I came away with a clear understanding,” he wrote, referring to the “candid views” he heard from Sudanese officials, villagers displaced by fighters, aid workers and the leaders of neighbouring countries. “There can be no single solution to this crisis. Darfur is a case study in complexity. If peace is to come, it must take into account all the elements that gave rise to the conflict.”

The Secretary-General stressed that “solutions cannot be piecemeal. The crisis grew from many causes.” He cited security, inter-tribal politics, battles over scarce resources such as water, desertification and economic development as critical examples.

Mr. Ban also emphasized the importance of listening to as broad a range of society, from tribal leaders to women’s groups to refugees to national officials, as possible if the solution is going to work.

“Any peace must have deep roots if it is to endure… We need a social contract for peace.”

Despite the suffering that Mr. Ban witnessed on the trip, he said he believed it was still possible to succeed in ending the conflict and bringing about lasting peace.

He noted the logistical preparations already being made to deploy the historic hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID), which will have some 26,000 peacekeepers and civilian police officers to try to quell the violence in a region where at least 200,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million others made homeless since 2003.

Mr. Ban announced last week that peace negotiations between the Sudanese Government and the Darfur rebels will begin in Libya on 27 October under the auspices of the UN and AU envoys to Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim.

But he added that it was important to not neglect the fragile situation in southern Sudan, where the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is trying to help implement the January 2005 comprehensive peace agreement that ended the separate and long-running civil war between the country’s northern and southern regions.