UNAMID urges conflicting parties in Darfur to sign peace deal

20:00, January 21, 2010      

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The United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on Thursday urged the conflicting parties in the restive Darfur region to sign a lasting and comprehensive peace deal to solve the crisis.

UNAMID spokesman Noureddine Mezni made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua at the UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state, three days before Sudan resumes peace talks.

The Sudanese government and the Darfur rebel groups are to start a new round of peace negotiations in Doha, capital of Qatar, on Jan. 24. The international community hopes it will be the last round before the general elections in Sudan scheduled for April this year.

"The sole means to end this crisis is the peaceful means through dialogue and negotiations. All parties should realize that prolonging the negotiations means prolonging the suffering of people affected by the conflict," Mezni said.

"The process of reaching a comprehensive, just and lasting peace must be accelerated," he added.

"We are a peacekeeping mission at a time when there is no real peace on the ground. We are ready to implement any peace agreement to be reached through Doha peace talks," said the UNAMID spokesman.

He said that the security situation in Darfur " is relatively calm, but subject to anything."

"There is tension in some areas and there are banditry activities, vehicles robberies and attacks against humanitarian personnel," he said, adding "these are consequences of the armed conflict in the region."

"The mission has already made advanced strides in implementing its mandate on the ground. We expect this year to be important towards completion of deployment of the peacekeepers together with the technical and logistical preparations," he said.

Mezni said that the mission is currently having 15,376 peacekeeping soldiers, about 76.9 percent of the 20,000 originally planned by the UN Security Council in Darfur, besides 4,634 peacekeeping police, about 77 percent of the original plan.

The UNAMID spokesperson expected the mission would complete the full deployment of troops by the end of this year.

However, Mezni said the deployment of the remaining peacekeepers was facing difficulties, such as inadequate assisting equipment.

"The deployment can be completed only when enough assisting equipment such as planes and vehicles are provided to transport the troops," he said.

He highlighted that the UN mission does not have a single military helicopter although its mandate is entering the third year. It took over the task of peacekeeping in the region from the African Union Mission in Sudan on Dec. 31, 2007.

"It is true that we have helicopters and other planes for civil purposes, but we need military planes," he said.

Mezni said that they were expecting the arrival of five military helicopters donated by Ethiopia to "boost performance and efficiency of the mission."

He disclosed that the operating crews of these planes would arrive in South Darfur state's capital of Nyala on Jan. 24, adding that "we expect the planes by mid-February."

He expressed appreciation of the Ethiopian support and urged other countries to donate more military planes, saying "We still need at least 18 planes."

In the meantime, the UNAMID spokesman condemned the attacks against the UN personnel, saying "attacking the peacekeepers is an attack against peace and constitutes a war crime which should be punished by law."

Mezni called on all parties in the Darfur conflict to assist UNAMID to perform its tasks efficiently.

Source: Xinhua
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