Darfur: head of UN/AU peacekeeping force voices ‘impatience’ for positive change
The head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, known as UNAMID, said today that he is just as anxious as people on the ground are for progress.
“It has almost been 3 months into the launch of the joint peacekeeping mission in Darfur: The people of Darfur have endured enough,” UN/AU Joint Special Representative Rodolphe Adada told reporters in Khartoum. “They are impatient to see positive change and I am just as impatient as they are.”
At full deployment, UNAMID is expected to have some 26,000 troops and police officers, making it the world’s largest peacekeeping operation, but to date, only 10,000 unformed personnel have been deployed.
According to the UN, as many as 300,000 people are now estimated to have died in Darfur since early 2003, when rebels began fighting Government forces and allied militiamen. This figure includes deaths from disease, malnutrition and reduced life expectancy, as well as from direct combat.
Aside from the death toll, more than 2.7 million Darfurians have been displaced by the fighting, the vast majority still living within the arid region on Sudan’s western flank. Around 260,000 refugees have had to flee to the east of neighbouring Chad.
“Underdevelopment and poverty are among the root causes of the problem and they need to be addressed,” Mr. Adada noted.
While calling on the international community to provide assistance, he stressed that Darfurians, too, must play their part “by upholding the rule of law, stopping banditry and committing to a peaceful solution.”
On the political front, the Representative urged all sides to reach a ceasefire.
“UNAMID is a peacekeeping mission,” he said. “And peacekeepers need a peace to keep.”
However, Mr. Adada emphasized that despite its challenges, UNAMID is endeavouring to help Darfurians by protecting vulnerable groups and training community policing volunteers, among other efforts.
Addressing the Security Council last week, he said it was disturbing that while the region has remained near the top of the international agenda, this attention had not been matched with the necessary action to provide UNAMID with the means to accomplish the tasks assigned to it.