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UN officials roundly condemn attack on AU peacekeepers in Darfur

UN officials roundly condemn attack on AU peacekeepers in Darfur

United Nations officials have joined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in strongly condemning this weekend’s deadly attack on African Union (AU) peacekeepers at a base in Haskinita, South Darfur, which killed nearly a dozen people and wounded many more, with several people also reported missing.

Mr. Ban, in a statement released yesterday, characterized the attack as “shocking and brutal” and called “for the perpetrators to be held fully accountable for this outrageous act.”

In his statement, AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré stressed that “this heinous and cowardly act will not deter the determination and commitment of the AU in bringing about lasting peace and alleviating the suffering of the people in Darfur.”

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million others forced to leave their homes since fighting erupted in 2003 in Darfur among rebel groups, Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed.

UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters today that Joint AU-UN Special Representative Rodolphe Adada is in Haskinita, where an investigation into the incident is under way.

The UN and AU Special Envoys to Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, expressed their shock and dismay at the attack, appealing to all parties to the conflict to demonstrate a serious commitment to the peace process and to end hostilities.

Martin Luther Agwai, Chairman of the Ceasefire Commission and the Force Commander-designate of the soon-to-be deployed AU-UN hybrid peacekeeping force to be known as UNAMID, said that “despite the casualties and loss of life, we will persevere in our efforts to keep the fragile peace on the ground while all eyes are set on the negotiation table to ensure the peace is a lasting and sustainable one.”

He added that it was regrettable that such an incident took place before the start of political negotiations between the Sudanese Government and Darfur’s rebel groups on 27 October in Tripoli, Libya.

The Security Council was briefed today on the incident by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guéhenno.

In a related development, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported that a camp hosting internally displaced persons (IDPs) and humanitarian convoys have been attacked in South Darfur. Nearly all localities in Darfur hosting IDPs have witness violence during the past month.

Yesterday, acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General Tayé-Brook Zerihoun met with the visiting delegation of “The “Elders.” The group is led by South African Nobel peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu and also includes former United States President Jimmy Carter, former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Graca Machel, wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela.