5 June 2008 A Security Council mission visiting Africa is expected to meet with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir today in Khartoum, the country’s capital.
Earlier in the day, the team visited the headquarters of the UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID, in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.
“The people of Sudan are waiting for UNAMID to fulfil its promises,” Rodolphe Adada, the UN-AU Joint Special Representative for Darfur, told the mission.
“The world has placed its confidence in this mission. It will wither away if we are not able to deliver.”
He appealed to the Council for assistance in speeding up the deployment of forces. At full deployment, UNAMID is expected to have some 26,000 troops and police officers, making it the world’s largest peacekeeping operation, but to date, only 10,000 unformed personnel have been deployed.
“I need your help to come in time,” Mr. Adada told the team, led by Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa and Ambassador John Sawers of the United Kingdom. “If we wait longer, we might not be able to maintain the most important capital for any peacekeeper: local trust.”
The Council mission also stopped at Zam Zam camp, where they were greeted by hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) bearing signs that read, “No to War, Yes to Peace.”
Sheikhs, chiefs and other camp residents expressed to the delegation that their main concern is security and protection, urging the Council to do its utmost to allow UNAMID to help Darfurians.
The delegation also visited the Wali of North Darfur, who pledged his Government’s full support in UNAMID’s deployment, but urged the Council mission to take the opinions of all sides into consideration.
“The importance of the work of the UN has come through very strongly and the scale of the challenge and the commitment of the people on the ground has also made a vivid impression on us members of the Security Council,” Mr. Sawers told reporters at the end of the four-day visit to Sudan.
He called on the African nation’s Government to keep airports in Darfur open to the UN at all times to enhance delivery of humanitarian aid.
More than 2.7 million people have been displaced from their homes across Darfur since 2003 because of fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied militiamen, while another 300,000 are estimated to have died, either through direct combat or disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy.
Meanwhile, the UN and AU envoys spearheading efforts to reach a lasting political solution in Darfur – Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim – today wrapped up two days of talks with regional and global partners, as well as Sudan, in Geneva.
The meeting was part of an effort to reassess the political landscape following recent developments, including the postponement of talks on security between the parties, Mr. Eliasson told reporters.
“The focus now has to be on de-escalation,” he said, stressing that the Security Council, regional countries, Sudan and the parties all had to work together to find a solution.
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