The United Nations and African Union envoys spearheading international efforts to resolve the five-year conflict wracking Darfur will tomorrow begin a four-day visit to Sudan to hold consultations with the movements that have not signed previous peace agreements in the region.
The aim of the consultations involving the UN’s Jan Eliasson and the AU’s Salim Ahmed Salim is to brief the parties on informal discussions held in Geneva last month with regional and international partners to the peace process and to seek their views on the way forward, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters today.
The main focus of the consultations will be on the need to improve the security situation across Darfur, which is affecting not only humanitarian operations and the work of the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping mission (known as UNAMID), but the political process as well, she said.
The visit by Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim will take place a week after consultations were held in the capital, Khartoum, and the southern city of Juba with the Government, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – the former rebels from the separate north-south civil war that ended in 2005 – and one of the Darfur movements, the United Resistance Front (URF).
Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim have repeatedly reiterated their calls for the parties to the Darfur conflict, which have claimed more than 200,000 lives and displaced nearly 2.5 million others since 2003, to end all violence and prepare for substantive talks aimed at devising a durable peace.
The parties cannot fight and prepare for peace talks at the same time, the envoys have said, stressing that a reduction is violence is vital if progress is to be made on the political front.