Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the central role of civil society in the process aimed at bringing a lasting peace to Darfur, as over 400 representatives of the strife-torn Sudanese region’s different communities, opinion leaders, women, youth, intellectuals, displaced people and the diaspora gathered for talks in the Qatari capital, Doha.
In a message delivered by Djibrill Yipènè Bassolé, Joint African Union-UN Chief Mediator for Darfur, the Secretary-General said it is vitally important that civil society contribute to the solutions that will bring peace to the region.
“Your commitment to this process, your patience when it goes slowly, your energy to make it accelerate are essential to finding a settlement and addressing the underlying causes of the conflict,” he told the opening ceremony of the Second Darfur Civil Society Forum.
“You come from different communities; you have different opinions about different issues; but you are united in your wish for a just and fair peace for Darfur,” he stated.
“Unlike many troubled regions of the world, Darfuris share a common religion, language and history as a region. Let what you have in common bring you together, to find a definitive solution to Darfur’s conflict and marginalization.”
Mr. Ban also voiced deep concern about the ongoing violence in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million others have been displaced in the past seven years as a result of fighting between rebels and Government forces backed by allied Janjaweed militiamen.
“I urge all parties to the conflict to end hostilities and respect the cease-fires to which they have committed,” he said. “I call on them to negotiate in Doha a comprehensive settlement of the Darfur crisis which addresses the legitimate concerns of all of Darfur’s communities.
“And to those who have refused to participate in the negotiations, I say: join them without further delay.”