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UN-AU Assessment Team to Visit Darfur Within Days

Sudan: Joint UN-AU Assessment Team to Visit Darfur Within Days, UN Envoy Says

New York, May 25 2006 3:00PM

A joint United Nations-African Union team will go to Sudan’s conflict-torn Darfur region to assess the needs of the AU’s peacekeeping mission there after conducting wide-ranging consultations in the country’s capital, UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said in Khartoum today.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan dispatched Mr. Brahimi and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hédi Annabi to Khartoum for intensified talks on strengthening the AU and UN peacekeeping forces there after the Security Council called for an assessment team to be deployed to Darfur within a week. The Council’s call came in a resolution adopted unanimously on 16 May under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for enforcement.

In talks with President Omar Bashir and several other senior Sudanese officials, “we agreed that in the coming days the United Nations and the African Union will send a joint assessment mission to Sudan,” Mr. Brahimi told a news conference.

“This mission will build on the telephone conversation which took place recently between President Bashir and the Secretary General, the consultations which took place during the 14 and 19 April visit to Sudan of Mr. Annabi and the current visit of myself and colleagues,” he said.

Fighting between the Government, pro-government militias and rebels has killed scores of thousands of people in Darfur and uprooted another 2 million in the last three years.

The mission would undertake an assessment of all the requirements for a possible transition to the UN from the 7,000-strong peacekeeping AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS). AMIS itself would have to be strengthened immediately, he said, since it would bear the initial responsibility of helping to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement signed earlier this month.

The proposed assessment team would return to Khartoum for one more round of consultations, he said, before reporting to Mr. Annan and AU Commission chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré.

“These activities would be undertaken without prejudice to the future decisions that the Government of National Unity, the African Union and the United Nations may take on this issue,” Mr. Brahimi stressed.

In talks that were useful to the UN and may also have been useful to Sudan, he said: “I reassured my interlocutors that the intention of the United Nations was to help them and the people of Darfur successfully implement the agreement signed in Abuja (Nigeria) on 5 May, by using all the resources at its disposal.”

This would mean adding, as an extension of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in South Sudan, a multi-dimensional presence in Darfur, including humanitarian assistance, human rights observers and support for voluntary returns and longer-term recovery, as well as security, he said.

He pointed out that that was exactly what was happening in South Sudan where military, police and civilian personnel have been directly involved in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in January of last year.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland told the Security Council in New York last Friday, after his week-long visit to Sudan and to refugee camps in eastern Chad, that violent attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers were continuing despite the Darfur peace agreement.


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