Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Darfur: More effort needed to include rebels in peace process

UN - While important progress has been made in the peace process in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, more needs to be done to bring on board rebel groups who are still fighting the Government, the United Nations peacekeeping chief warned today.

“I call on those parties who have not yet done so to cease hostilities and enter into peace negotiations immediately and without preconditions,” Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations HervĂ© Ladsous told the Security Council, referring to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) signed between the Government and one of the rebel groups, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM).

Mr. Ladsous was presenting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the joint UN-African Union operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the 23,000-strong force set up in 2008 to help end a war that has killed at least 300,000 people and driven 2.7 million others from their homes since 2003.

As signs of progress, he cited LJM leader Tijani Al Seisi’s arrival in Darfur and his inauguration at the beginning of the week as President of the Darfur Regional Authority, paving the way for the next stage of the DDPD, the establishment of various committees and commissions which are expected to include elements from another group, the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi, which is now fighting the Government again after joining a previous peace effort.

Other hold-out groups include the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid, and Mr. Ladsous stressed the vital importance of bringing all groups into the peace process.

“We must continue to do all that is in our power to help the Sudanese reach a final and inclusive settlement to this conflict,” he said. “It will be crucial in this regard for the signatory parties to broaden support for the DDPD by working to ensure peace dividends reach the people of Darfur.”

Mr. Ladsous noted that ongoing clashes, involving sporadic fighting between Government forces and armed groups as well as deadly attacks against UNAMID patrols, threaten the protection and humanitarian activities of both aid workers and the mission.

“I strongly condemn those responsible for the cowardly attack on UNAMID peacekeepers at Zam Zam,” he said, referring to the ambush of a patrol near a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) on 10 October in which three UN peacekeepers were killed.

“I call on the Government to fully investigate the incident and to spare no effort in bringing those responsible to justice.”