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Joint African Union-UN envoy discusses better security with Darfur’s displaced

Joint African Union-UN envoy discusses better security with Darfur’s displaced

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur
The head of the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur met today with leaders of a camp housing some of the region’s displaced to discuss improved security measures following the killing of a camp leader and his wife earlier this week.

The mission, known as UNAMID, has been monitoring the situation in the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the wake of the murders of Chief Umda Saroukh and his wife, who were shot by unknown armed men at their house near El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.

Rodolphe Adada, the Joint AU-UN Special Representative and head of UNAMID, noted that the mission had prioritized community policing on its agenda and the camp’s residents needed to extend meaningful cooperation in the form of a joint approach to security and exchange of information inside the camp.

He urged unity among the leaders, stressing that their needs, challenges, concerns and interests were the same as those of the general population in the camps.

UNAMID could only work well with a coherent and united team of leaders,” he told the leaders.

Mr. Adada added that UNAMID was not in Darfur to replace the Sudanese Government, but to work with it to improve the safety and security of all Darfurians, especially the displaced.

An estimated 2.6 million people have been displaced in Darfur since fighting began in 2003, pitting Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen against rebel groups, and as many as 4.7 million people have been left totally dependent on humanitarian aid.

While expressing gratitude to UNAMID for its services to the IDP community, including education, the Umdas voiced their concern about their own protection and ongoing criminal activities in the camp, among other issues.

They also raised concerns that UNAMID’s mandate did not extend to executive policing powers of arrest and detention. Further, the leaders requested that UN patrols work closely with them in deploying patrol vehicles to problematic areas in the camp.

The Umdas and UNAMID Police will further explore proposals put forward at today’s meeting.

Meanwhile, the mission announced that the first batch of the Ethiopian Infantry Battalion comprising 151 personnel arrived today in Darfur, and another 151 are scheduled to follow tomorrow.

The remaining members of the infantry battalion – totalling some 800 soldiers – are expected to be deployed in September or October, helping UNAMID to advance toward its goal of 97 per cent deployment by the end of this year.

Established by the Security Council in 2007, the mission is expected to have a total of 19,555 military personnel at full deployment.

In a related development, the Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Djibril Bassolé, is in Tripoli, Libya, where he is meeting a number of Darfur rebel movements willing to engage in peace talks with the Sudanese Government.