Khartoum, (sudanow) – UNAMID, the hybrid forces sent to Western Sudan to help maintain peace, hinted it is seeing some fruits coming out, but at a price, saying a lot remained to be done.
The Representative of the United Nations and African Union in Darfur said he was not happy with recent clashes but nodded positively to government cooperation, and displaced persons readiness to go back to their homes in the region, first such hint since the rebellion began in 2003.
Professor Ibrahim Gambari, said the African troops have lost forty seven of their personnel in the troubled region and dozens of injured, but remained firm in carrying out their duty which has started producing results now.
He said from the time of the African Mission In Darfur to the current hybrid forces involving the United Nations, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), his mission has recorded forty seven peacekeepers killed, twenty seven from Nigeria, seventeen from Rwanda and two Egypt.
“Now these are very unfortunate (incidents). These are peacekeepers we are here to keep the peace. We are here not to fight directly and certainly not to get killed. But unfortunately these are some of the risks that are attendant even in peacekeeping situations where there is no peace agreement to keep-no peace agreement to implement.”Gambari lamented.
However he said he would not be deterred, reaffiming that “I will continue to deploy my forces in a robust and very proactive manner but not in a reckless manner because I do not want to have more of my peacekeepers killed as a result of doing their work.”
The United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari told a press briefing that he was not happy with the most recent months, November and December 2010, deterioration of the security situation in some parts of Darfur.
“This was due largely to military clashes between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the forces of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Similarly, the deterioration in relations between the Parties to the Darfur Peace Agreement led to heavy military confrontations between SAF and the forces of the Sudan Liberation Army/MM (SLA/MM) in Khor Abeche, Dar Al Salam, Shangil Tobaya and Shaeria. Unfortunately, those clashes resulted in severe humanitarian consequences, including significant displacements, loss of lives and property.” Professor Gambari complained.
He explained that a considerable number of IDPs sought refuge in UNAMID Team Sites where military and Police personnel provided security, health services, food and other basic needs. He said although the situation in these conflict-affected areas has improved and UNAMID has stepped up confidence building patrols in order to encourage gradual returns, several IDPs remain clustered around our Team Sites.
“I am deeply concerned about these renewed clashes and have since made strong appeals to the Parties to cease further hostilities in the interest of ongoing peace efforts and the safety of the people of Darfur. I have particularly stressed that while armed confrontations may meet short term military objectives, they do not hold the solution to the achievement of durable and sustainable peace in Darfur.” He said, adding that in his engagements with the Parties, he has received further assurances of the willingness to remain focused on the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Darfur.
He commended the positive attitude of the government of Sudan which, he said has shown “a commendable willingness to cooperate with us in ensuring that we have the required access and freedom of movement to implement our mandate.”
However, he explained, under the new approach, UNAMID shall continue to notify the GoS of its movement plans for coordination purposes but this would not in any way imply a request for permission to gain access to desired locations.
UNAMID has also significantly stepped up its patrols aimed at providing security to civilians and stabilizing the situation in areas of conflict. UNAMID patrols have increased from 90 to 130 military and police patrols daily with additional surge capacity when required.
“For example between 1 January and 10 February 2011, over 6000 patrols were conducted, mostly to deter armed violence against civilians.” The UNAMID official said.
He expressed hope that a peace process under the Qatari government which brings government and Darfur rebel movements was showing signs of a progress and a promise of a happy ending.
“I am particularly delighted by the positive news coming out of Doha and the likelihood of imminent breakthrough and conclusion of a peace agreement with the participation of JEM.” UNAMID chief stressed, commending the efforts of the Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé, the Government of Qatar, and the Parties, in ensuring this anticipated outcome.
Professor Gambari appealed to the international community to “exert as much pressure on the armed movements to enter the peace process and to be serious about reaching a negotiated settlement to this conflict in Darfur.”
Professor Gambari said he was not happy with the recent government decision expel a French nongovernmental charity organization, Médecins du Monde in South Darfur.
He said he considered the incident unfortunate in the sense that there was a mechanism agreed that before the state authorities take action like that they should have coordinated with the relevant United Nations and other agencies so that they could look into the substance of complaints and address them before such extreme actions were taken.
“I hope cooler heads will prevail and there will be second thoughts given to the issue of expulsion of any aid agency.” He said.
These developments put together, have encouraged internally displaced persons, (IDP) to start thinking about going home.
Gambari said the UNAMID and the United Nations Country Team( UNCT) have made considerable progress in coordination and cooperation to help the people of Darfur, where security situation permits, to “begin the slow but steady progress to live normal lives.”
“Working closely with relevant UN agencies and the GoS, modest but significant progress was recently achieved with the facilitation of voluntary returns of IDPs from South Darfur to West Darfur. We have been encouraged by the initial results and would continue to work with relevant stake holders to accommodate the growing numbers of IDPs who have expressed the wish to voluntarily leave the IDP camps.” He said.
He said UNAMID is also working with relevant UNCT, such as UNICEF and WHO on related projects such as convening an international water conference to raise funds for water projects in Darfur and other early recovery initiatives to support a return to normalcy in some parts of Darfur.” He noted.