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Secretary-General urges world to step up support for Darfur peacekeeping force

Secretary-General urges world to step up support for Darfur peacekeeping force

Noting that this is a “critical point” regarding the deployment of an African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force in the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan, Secretary-General appealed for the world to step up its support for the mission.

To deploy the force as soon as possible, “this requires capabilities on the ground – capabilities which we need UN Member States to provide, but which is still dangerously lacking,” he said in a message to the three-day World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates in Rome.

Most strikingly, Mr. Ban pointed out, is the lack of helicopters. “In the past weeks and months, I have contacted, personally, every possible contributor of helicopters – in the Americas, in Europe, in Asia. And yet, not one helicopter has been made available yet.”

He urged governments – in regions such as Europe, Asia and the Americas where thousands of different types of military helicopters exist – to bolster their support for the AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

In his message, the Secretary-General also congratulated United States actors George Clooney and Don Cheadle, who both received the 2007 Peace Summit Award for their efforts to raise awareness about the humanitarian suffering in Darfur.

Earlier this week, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former US Vice-President Al Gore accepted this year’s Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet briefed the Security Council on some of the latest developments in preparing the deployment of UNAMID, which has been hampered in part by a series of obstacles raised by the Sudanese Government.

Mr. Mulet told reporters later that some mission personnel are already in place in Darfur as UNAMID gets ready to take over on 1 January next year from the existing but under-resourced AU mission known as AMIS.

He said that while the UN has reached agreement with the Government on some technical issues relating to the provision of land and equipment, more concessions are needed so that UNAMID can fully deploy. Further consultations between the world body and Khartoum are expected over the next week.

The Government has previously not made clear it supports the presence of some non-African units in UNAMID, and Mr. Mulet said the UN is still waiting for an answer on that question.