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Darfur: UN-African Union peacekeeping force launches operations in El Fasher

Darfur: UN-African Union peacekeeping force launches operations in El Fasher

The United Nations African Union hybrid peacekeeping operation for Darfur (UNAMID) today began operations at its El Fasher Headquarters in what the senior UN official there called a milestone for the strife-torn Sudanese region.

“It is a great day for the United Nations and the African Union, the day of UNAMID's launch, which was only an idea three months ago but now it is a profound reality,” said Rodolphe Adada, the UN-AU Joint Special Representative for Darfur.

“I am pleased to say that with the cooperation of the Government of Sudan, we are one more step closer to embark on our peacekeeping mandate for the people of Darfur,” he declared.

But Mr. Adada cautioned that more support is needed, saying UNAMID is “facing a lack of pledges for specialized units in areas such as aviation and land transport that should be arriving in Darfur as part of the heavy support package” to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which has been on the ground in Darfur since 2004.

The UN and AU are currently conducting pre-deployment visits to some of the troop contributing countries to inspect the uniformed personnel and their equipment, according to the envoy.

“I have all the confidence that the remaining steps towards the final assumption of authority by UNAMID will be concluded before the end of this year so that we can start implementing our mandate in 2008 in full gear,” he said.

Conflict in Darfur has killed more than 200,000 people and uprooted another 2.5 million. UN-AU mediated talks are currently underway in Sirte, Libya aimed at achieving a lasting political solution to the fighting, which began in 2003 and involves rebels, Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed.