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Calls For Peacekeeping In Sudan’s Darfur

UN Refugee Chief Calls For Global Support For Peacekeeping In Sudan’s Darfur

New York, Dec 19 2005

The head of the United Nations refugee agency today strongly urged the international community to bring greater support to both the peace process and the African Union (AU) peacekeeping role in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region, pledging UN support to the AU in achieving success in this difficult yet necessary mission.

“The success or failure of the Darfur process has the potential to make or break the stability in the whole region, if not the whole continent,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres told reporters at the agency’s in Addis Ababa at the end of a two-day visit to Ethiopia.

The AU has several thousand troops monitoring the situation in Darfur, where two years of fighting between Government forces, pro-government militias and rebels has killed some 180,000 people and displaced 2 million others.

“The world should help the African Union succeed in Darfur, and I will personally be your advocate for the international community not to shy away from its responsibilities,” Mr. Guterres told AU Commission President Alpha Oumar Konaré.

The two leaders also discussed their common vision of a strong African political integration and committed themselves to strengthening their organizations' cooperation. They resolved to jointly approach donors with creative projects to address the gap between short-term humanitarian relief and longer-term development assistance.

“The funds always come too late,” Mr. Guterres said, alluding particularly to the Southern Sudan situation, where reconstruction should have started early on, after last January’s settlement of a two decades-long war between Government and rebel forces, to allow for the sustainable return of some 4.5 million displaced people and the country’s recovery.

Organized repatriation to South Sudan, which began over the weekend from Kenya, is due to start from Ethiopia in February.

Mr. Guterres, accompanied by UNHCR's Geneva-based Africa Bureau Director Marjon Kamara, also met with the UN country team and deplored the frequent unpredictability of funding for Africa – a perennial problem for UNHCR and its partners.

“Money follows television,” he said. “Unfortunately television does not often come to Africa.”

ENDS

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