Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seeks to appoint veteran Nigerian diplomat Ibrahim Gambari, who has most recently served as his top envoy to Myanmar, as the new head of the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur, it was announced today.
Mr. Gambari’s appointment as the Joint Special Representative of the mission, known as UNAMID, will be effective 1 January 2010.
He has also been serving as Special Adviser on the International Compact with Iraq and Other Political Issues since March 2007, the same year he was named Special Envoy to Myanmar.
Prior to that, Mr. Gambari was the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. He was also the Special Adviser on Africa and headed the UN mission in Angola. From 1990 to 1999, he served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the UN.
UNAMID has been in place across Darfur since the start of last year to try to quell the fighting and humanitarian suffering that has engulfed the region since 2003. At least 300,000 people are estimated to have died from the conflict and another 2.7 million people remain displaced from their homes.
At full deployment, the mission – the UN’s largest – is expected to have some 26,000 troops and police officers, but as of late October, only 19,000 unformed personnel have been deployed.
Earlier this week, a senior UN peacekeeping official warned that that the security situation in the war-ravaged Sudan region continues to be unstable, voicing his “extreme concern” over the fate of two abducted UNAMID staff members.
“Carjackings and attacks on humanitarian workers have continued,” Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet told the Security Council, reminding the 15-member body that the international staff members, who were kidnapped over three months ago, are still in captivity.
Mr. Mulet noted that the opening of a new round of UN-backed talks on 17 November in the Qatari capital of Doha, aimed at bringing peace to Darfur, coincided with an escalation of armed clashes involving rebel militia in the region.
He said that a number of groups in Darfur, including the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and SLA/AW, continue to express concern over the holding of national elections, slated for April 2010, before a peace agreement is reached.