25 June 2008 The United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has serious troop and equipment shortfalls, six months after coming into being, and local support for the operation is being stretched thin, the mission chief warned today.
In an op-ed column published in The Wall Street Journal, Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur and UNAMID chief Rodolphe Adada said the mission currently has fewer than 10,000 troops and police officers, compared to the 26,000 mandated for full deployment.
He stressed that “we are not sitting on our hands waiting for the troops and material to arrive,” adding that the number of monthly patrols across Darfur – an arid and impoverished area in western Sudan that is roughly the size of Texas – now tops 600.
“We are working to build the infrastructure needed to cope with our increasing troop strength. Our plan is ambitious: we aim to have deployed 80 per cent of our forces by the end of the year.”
Mr. Adada said UNAMID faced a daunting task given it is trying to “keep a peace that doesn’t exist,” with the rebel movements splintering into more and more factions, the peace process stalling and widespread violence, civilian displacement and insecurity.
“There is no simple solution to Darfur,” he wrote, noting that the imminent appointment of a new UN-AU mediator should give renewed vigour to the peace process.
“We will work to empower civil society, because the best hopes for peace lie with the traditional tribal leadership. We will expect the government in Khartoum to honour its responsibilities to protect all the citizens of Sudan, and to cooperate fully with UNAMID. We will engage the [rebel] movements, pushing them to commit to a peaceful settlement. Finally, we will encourage the international community to demonstrate equal resolve.”
Mr. Adada underscored that UNAMID, the first hybrid UN-AU mission of its kind, cannot afford to fail.
“Patience is running thin here and local trust – essential for our mission to succeed – is on the line,” he said, urging the international community to fully support the mission.
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