Military leaders of Sudan and UN-AU Darfur force discuss deployment

15 January 2008

Sudan’s top military officer and his counterpart from the new United Nations-African Union (AU) hybrid mission, known as UNAMID, met today to discuss issues pertaining to the deployment of the joint peacekeeping force which seeks to end the violence in the war-ravaged Darfur region.

Sudan’s top military officer and his counterpart from the new United Nations-African Union (AU) hybrid mission, known as UNAMID, met today to discuss issues pertaining to the deployment of the joint peacekeeping force which seeks to end the violence in the war-ravaged Darfur region.

In the talks between UNAMID General Martin Luther Agwai and Lieutenant General Ismat, Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces, the Government “expressed its commitment to facilitate the deployment of UNAMID and to avoid misunderstandings in the future, by keeping the channels of communication open through regular meetings,” UN spokesperson Michele Montas said at a press briefing in New York.

Today’s meeting was a follow-up to a decision – that the military leadership of the two sides should meet – reached yesterday during a meeting between Rodolphe Adada, the Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur, and Mutrif Siddiq, Undersecretary in Sudan’s Foreign Ministry.

The so-called Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is among the unresolved issues that depend on the outcome of discussions with the Sudanese Government. Others include the final confirmation of the composition of the force, and clearance to function 24 hours a day.

Yesterday, Mr. Adada also conferred with the UN and AU Special Envoys for Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim – who have arrived on a weeklong mission to infuse new momentum into efforts to bring peace to Darfur – on progress made.

“They all agreed that the current tension could negatively affect the deployment of UNAMID and the distribution of humanitarian assistance in Darfur,” Ms. Montas noted.

Currently, UNAMID, which took over from an AU mission at the end of last month, has only 9,000 troops out of its mandated strength of 26,000, and it lacks essential logistics and equipment, including helicopters. Top UN officials have repeatedly called on Member States to speed up delivery of vital units and assets.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes since fighting began in 2003 in Darfur between Government forces and rebel groups.

In a related development, UNAMID Police Advisors will focus their efforts on establishing community policing in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur, the mission’s top police official has announced.

Noting that the main objective of UNAMID Police is to help Darfurians towards peace, Commissioner Michael Fryer also said that Advisors will seek to map out strategies to protect women and children, as well as build local police capacity to meet international standards.

On 12 January, he urged the displaced and local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with Advisors to bolster camp security during a five-hour inaugural confidence-building patrol to the Zamzam IDP camp in North Darfur.

Mr. Fryer told the camp’s Umdas, or local chiefs, as well as Sheiks, women and youth that the patrol seeks to introduce the Advisors to the displaced people and local camp police.

“We’ve been waiting for this for months and now we are happy you have come,” Ali Isaak Ahmed, the Chief Umda of Zamzam camp, said, expressing his delight at the arrival of UNAMID Police to the site.

The residents of Zamzam appealed to Mr. Fryer – who also visited part of the site where more than 1,000 people who fled violence in South Darfur have lived for nearly three months – to help them by providing water, shelter and basic health care.

“We are here to work with you, especially the women and children,” Elizabeth Muwanga, UNAMID Deputy for Policy and Planning, told the camp’s inhabitants.

“When we see the family suffering, we too feel the pain. When your children are not going to school, we too feel the pain. When women are raped, we too feel the pain,” she said. “Let us all work together to stop these painful situations.”

 

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Sudan: UN officials meet with Government on operations of Darfur peacekeepers

Officials of the new United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the Government of Sudan began negotiations in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, today to regulate deployment and operations of the force that is seeking to bring peace to the strife-torn Darfur region.