31 December 2008 The joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission, tasked with protecting civilians in war-ravaged Darfur and quelling the violence in the Sudanese region, commemorated its first anniversary in operation today as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed that troop levels have exceeded 60 per cent of the full authorized strength.
The hybrid force, known as UNAMID, was set up by the Security Council to protect civilians on the western flank of Sudan, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.
One year on from transferring the task of suppressing the violence to UNAMID from the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), some 12,374 blue helmets are now in place across Darfur, which is 63 per cent of the 19,555 military personnel authorized by the Security Council.
“The Secretary-General applauds the efforts of UNAMID and troop-contributing countries in reaching this target in the face of serious difficulties, including the volatile security situation in Darfur,” Mr. Ban said in a statement.
“To ensure that the Mission continues to grow and reach full strength, troop- and police-contributing countries will have to work together with the United Nations to expedite the deployment of all outstanding capabilities,” Mr. Ban said while underscoring the importance of the continued cooperation of the Government of Sudan in achieving full deployment.
Concerned that civilians will continue to suffer from the savage conflict in Darfur, and that both UNAMID and humanitarian personnel will remain under threat in the absence of serious dialogue, the Secretary-General urged the parties to work with the UN-AU Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Djibril Bassolé, towards a comprehensive political solution.
The mission's website today noted that “while an all-inclusive peace agreement has yet to be achieved, UNAMID's dedicated work has facilitated humanitarian relief, local conflict resolution, and security so as to establish and strengthen conditions that can enable the people of Sudan to resolve this tragic conflict.”
It also acknowledged the efforts of its predecessors, saying “former AMIS soldiers, police officers, together with their civilian colleagues serving in UNAMID, have worked tirelessly under difficult and often dangerous circumstances to sustain a presence throughout Darfur.”
On behalf of the AU-UN Joint Special Representative Rodolphe Adada, his deputy, Henry Anyidoho, reaffirmed UNAMID's commitment to its mandate and the determination of its soldiers, police officers, and civilian members to build on initial achievements.
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