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Darfur: AU-UN joint mission chief assesses security and civilian needs on first field visits

UNAMID Joint Special Representative Mohamed Ibn Chambas.
UNAMID/Albert González Farran
UNAMID Joint Special Representative Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

Darfur: AU-UN joint mission chief assesses security and civilian needs on first field visits

The head of the joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur reiterated the commitment of the UN and its partners in protecting and assisting local communities in the region, following his assessment of the security, humanitarian and political situations in the five Darfur states.

“The best solution to the conflict in Darfur is to achieve a lasting peace, allowing conditions to normalize so that citizens can live without fear or intimidation,” Mohamed Ibn Chambas said in a news release wrapping up a series of field visits, his first as the head of the AU-UN peacekeeping mission in the Darfur (UNAMID).

The joint envoy's eight-day trip from April 22 to 30 included meetings with “representatives of internally displaced people, traditional leaders, State authorities and UNAMID staff,” a spokesperson for the Secretary-General told journalists today in New York.

In East Darfur, Mr. Chambas travelled to Labado and Muhajeria, where clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army - Mini Minawi and the Government of Sudan have displaced thousands of civilians in recent weeks causing them to take refuge near UN peacekeeping bases.

On 29 April, UNAMID and its humanitarian partners delivered the second phase of emergency aid to the families. The first phase of the operation was conducted on 23 April, and consisted primarily of delivering food rations, bottled water and medical supplies delivered and protected by UNAMID peacekeepers, and provided by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

In meetings with authorities in East and South Darfur, Mr. Chambas stressed “the importance of ensuring continued access by UNAMID and humanitarian organizations to enable the delivery aid to the IDPs concentrated around the UNAMID Team Sites in Muhajeria and Labado,” according to today’s news release. An estimated 200,000 civilians remain near the bases.

Also in Muhajeria, Mr. Chambas met with UNAMID personnel and expressed appreciation for their professionalism in the protection of civilians, particularly after the killing of a Nigerian blue helmet and injuring of two others by unidentified assailants.

In Central Darfur, the UNAMID chief highlighted the benefits that both the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and the Darfur Donor Conference’s $3.7 billion in financial pledges could bring in terms of achieving lasting peace and much-needed development in Darfur.

The Doha Document, negotiated with the support of the Government of Qatar, forms the basis for a permanent ceasefire and comprehensive peace agreement to end the fighting that began in Darfur ten years ago, pitting government forces and allied militiamen against rebel groups.

The Sudanese Government and two major rebel groups have committed to the accord.

During his visits, Mr. Chambas met with internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the Hassa Hissa and Nertiti Camps in Zalingei, Central Darfur, the Kalma Camp in South Darfur, Shadad and Niyasha Camp in North Darfur and Mornei Camp in West Darfur. He also met with State leaders, including South Darfur Governor or “Wali” Adam Mahmoud Jaral-Nabi and East Darfur Wali Abdul-Hamid Musa Kasha.

Established in July 2007, UNAMID has the protection of civilians as its core mandate, but is also tasked with contributing to security for humanitarian assistance, monitoring and verifying implementation of agreements and assisting with an inclusive political process, among other responsibilities.

According to UN estimates, some 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since the conflict between rebels, Government forces and allied militiamen erupted in 2003 and about 2.7 million others have had to flee their homes. Both sides have been accused of numerous human rights abuses.