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Attack On UN Peacekeepers In North Darfur Deplored

Ban deplores 'unacceptable' attack on UN peacekeepers in North Darfur

9 July 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned a deadly attack on the joint United Nations-African Union force in Darfur that killed seven peacekeepers and wounded twenty-two, seven of them critically.

The attack on the peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID, occurred yesterday at approximately 2:45 pm local time, when a joint police and military patrol was ambushed by unidentified militia between Gusa Jamat and Wadah in North Darfur.

The attackers used heavy weapons and engaged the UNAMID convoy in an exchange of fire for more than two hours.

"The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms this unacceptable act of extreme violence against AU-UN peacekeepers in Darfur and calls on the Government of Sudan to do its utmost to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice," his spokesperson said in a statement.

Mr. Ban also expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the peacekeepers who lost their lives.

UNAMID has been in place since the beginning of this year to try to end the conflict that has raged in the Western Sudanese region since 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed.

An estimated 300,000 people have died, either through direct combat or because of disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy, over the past five years in Darfur. Some 2.7 million people are now displaced, with many living across the border in eastern Chad.

Mr. Ban "calls on all parties to respect their agreements, to redouble their efforts to ensure the safety and integrity of the peacekeeping force and reach a comprehensive settlement to the crisis in Darfur as soon as possible," the statement added.

He also reiterated his appeal to Member States to provide all necessary support to UNAMID, which currently has around 10,000 troops and police officers on the ground in Darfur, still far short of the expected total of about 26,000 when the mission reaches full deployment. It is also lacking key capacities in air transport, particularly helicopters.

Yesterday's attack follows an incident just last month in which a UN staff member was abducted by armed Arab militiamen in West Darfur, and then assaulted and stripped of his belongings before eventually being released. Also in West Darfur, four UNAMID peacekeepers were ambushed by a group of 60 armed men in May.

The Security Council noted that yesterday's attack was the most severe on UNAMID since its deployment.

In a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Le Luong Minh of Viet Nam, which holds the Council's rotating presidency for July, members "stress that any attack or threat against UNAMID is unacceptable and demands that there be no further attacks."

The Council also called for the perpetrators of the attack to be brought to justice.

***

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL'S STATEMENT

New York, 9 July 2008 - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Darfur -deadly attack on UNAMID peacekeepers in North Darfur

On 8 July at approximately 14h45 local time, a UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) joint police and military patrol was ambushed by unidentified militia between Gusa Jamat and Wadah (100 km east of Shangil Tobayi, North Darfur). The attackers used heavy weapons and engaged the UNAMID convoy in an exchange of fire for more than two hours. Seven peacekeepers were killed and twenty-two were wounded, seven of them critically.

The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms this unacceptable act of extreme violence against AU-UN peacekeepers in Darfur and calls on the Government of Sudan to do its utmost to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice. The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the peacekeepers who lost their lives, and reiterates his appreciation for their service, valour and commitment to the search for peace in Darfur.

The Secretary-General calls on all parties to respect their agreements, to redouble their efforts to ensure the safety and integrity of the peacekeeping force and reach a comprehensive settlement to the crisis in Darfur as soon as possible. The Secretary-General reiterates his appeal to the international community to provide all necessary support to the peacekeeping force in Darfur.

ENDS

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