African Union, UN envoys to hold consultations to spark Darfur peace process

African Union, UN envoys to hold consultations to spark Darfur peace process

Salim Ahmed Salim (L) and Jan Eliasson
The United Nations and African Union envoys spearheading efforts to bring peace to Sudan’s war-wracked Darfur region will hold informal consultations early next week with regional partners and international observers in a bid to find new momentum for the political process.

Jan Eliasson of the UN and Salim Ahmed Salim of the AU will meet in Geneva with the regional partners next Monday and then with the international observers on Tuesday, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters.

She said the aim of the consultations was to review the current status of the political process in Darfur given both the prevailing security situation and delays in the parties’ preparations for substantive talks.

The two Special Envoys hope to reach an understanding with the regional partners and the international observers on the road ahead for the political process, Ms. Okabe added.

A spike in recent attacks in West Darfur, particularly from Sudanese Government forces and allied militiamen, has displaced thousands of people and led senior UN officials to issue public warnings about the deteriorating conditions in the region.

A hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force known as UNAMID has been in place across Darfur since the start of the year, having replaced an earlier AU-only force, to try to quell the violence and the humanitarian suffering.

Ms. Okabe said the Egyptian contingent of UNAMID is starting to deploy this week, arriving with an advance team of 72 and accompanying equipment. The first company of 158 people is due to arrive later this month.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes since 2003 because of fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed.