Top UN envoy calls for two-pronged approach to boost development in Darfur

21 March 2010

The situation faced by those uprooted by violence in Darfur region cannot be sustained, a senior United Nations official said today, calling for a two-track transition to promote development in the war-wracked Sudanese region.

For the most part, internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in camps are being provided with basic needs, including education and health, Ibrahim Gambari, the Joint Special Representative of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), said at an international donors conference in Cairo, Egypt.

“This situation is not sustainable and will, in the long run, lead to donor fatigue, collapse of the established service system and the breeding of social vices that can cause serious harm and damage to the host communities and society as a whole,” he warned.

Increasingly, IDPs are seeking employment and other opportunities in a bid to become more self-sufficient, Mr. Gambari noted.

An estimated 300,000 have been killed and 2.7 million others displaced since 2003 in Darfur, a region roughly the size of Spain.

The current situation, the envoy said, requires a two-pronged approach to transition from emergency programming to development: developing a stable and sustainable economy with the support of the private sector, along with boosting capacity, especially in transferring authority from the centre to the periphery.

“This would not only encourage the voluntary and appropriate return of the IDPs but would also provide the potential for economic opportunity for those living in other areas of Sudan,” he stressed.

Mr. Gambari underscored the importance of “inclusive and comprehensive” peace pacts being entered into between all rebel groups and the Sudanese Government to set the stage for a durable peace and to promote early recovery and development.

Last week, the Government signed an agreement with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM). The deal came on the heels of a pact reached between Sudan and one of Darfur's biggest rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a move immediately welcomed by the Joint Special Representative, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council.

Mr. Gambari arrived in Cairo from Paris, where he took part in talks with French authorities, diplomats and the head of the Sudanese Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW).

The envoy urged Abdul Wahid Mohammed Al-Nour, the group's leader, to join the peace process, and also requested stepped up cooperation on the ground with UNAMID.

“The discussions with the SLA/AW leader were frank and useful and we have agreed to continue regular consultations,” he said.

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The top United Nations official in the war-wracked Darfur region of western Sudan today welcomed an agreement between the national Government and a rebel group, calling it “another important milestone” on the path towards a comprehensive peace pact to end the deadly conflict that has engulfed the region for seven years.