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UN-AU Mission Chief Meets Sudanese Pres. In Darfur

United Nations-African Union mission chief meets with Sudanese President in Darfur

23 July 2008 - The head of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) met today with President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan at the mission's headquarters in El Fasher.

Mr. al-Bashir reiterated his country's resolve to provide security for UNAMID staff and convoys. "You are our guests and our partners," he said, "and we are ready to provide any assistance that will help you do your work."

The Joint Special Representative told the President that UNAMID's deployment was besieged by numerous challenges, but said that the mission was strengthening its resolve to reach its full capacity as soon as possible.

The Sudanese leader expressed his condolences to UNAMID and the families of those peacekeepers that have lost their lives in Darfur while serving the mission. Seven blue helmets were killed in an ambush earlier this month in North Darfur and, just over a week later, another was shot dead in West Darfur.

Mr. Adada pointed out that UNAMID had thousands of containers awaiting "movement along the difficult and sometimes dangerous routes into Darfur," and called on the Sudanese Government to ensure that the convoys reach their destinations safely.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, also travelled to Darfur and attended the meetings with the President.

UNAMID reported that the deployment of an Egyptian engineering unit had to be postponed after the airport was closed for the President's visit. New dates for the deployment are yet to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, the mission announced that it is continuing to suspend the temporary relocation of its non-essential UN personnel. Some 300 people were moved out of Darfur before the relocation was halted last Friday.

Earlier this week, Mr. Adada met Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, to discuss cooperation and peace in Darfur in the wake of the recent war crimes charges sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor against Mr. al-Bashir.

Some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed as a result of direct combat, disease or malnutrition since 2003. Another 2.7 million people have been displaced because of fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied militiamen known as the Janjaweed.

ENDS

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