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July 22, 11

NEWS / Darfur: imperative of peace is now, Security Council told

22 July 2011 –
The United Nations-African Union envoy for Darfur today called for stepped-up efforts to reach a comprehensive peace agreement as soon as possible, stressing that it is high time for the people of the strife-torn Sudanese region to resume normal lives.

“The imperative of peace is now as the people of Darfur have suffered too long and too deeply,” Ibrahim Gambari, the Joint Special Representative and head of the UN-AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), told the Security Council.

Reporting on the latest developments, Mr. Gambari recalled the recent signing of the draft “Doha Document for Peace in Darfur” (DDPD) by the Sudanese Government and the rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM).

The draft provides the basis for reaching a permanent ceasefire and a comprehensive and inclusive peace settlement in Darfur. It was endorsed by a conference held in May in Doha, Qatar, that brought together more than 500 delegates representing various Darfur stakeholders, including internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, civil society and Government officials.

“While the signing of the DDPD by the two parties represents an important step forward in the search for sustainable peace and stability in Darfur, it is my view that many daunting challenges remain,” Mr. Gambari told the 15-member body.

The first is how to continue engagement of the hold-out armed movements – the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid and the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi – and the Sudanese Government to agree to a cessation of hostilities.

The other challenges are to ensure local ownership of the peace process by Darfurians at the grassroots level through a credible, transparent and free internal political process; and the need for an enabling environment to make possible a Darfur-based process.

“These are by no means simple challenges but work on them is already in progress,” Mr. Gambari stated, adding that UNAMID will use the intervening period to assist the stakeholders in the dissemination of the draft document to the population of Darfur to broaden support for it.

“The challenge for the international community… is to determine how best to impress on all sides involved in the conflict that a military solution is not the way to go,” he added.

In his latest report on UNAMID, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that, in the coming months, UNAMID, the AU, the UN and the broader international community must be poised to assist the Sudanese Government to address the various causes of instability in the country.

“It will be critical that armed offensives are put aside and political dialogue pursued,” he wrote in the report, which Mr. Gambari presented to the Council today.

The UNAMID chief pledged that the mission will continue to do everything within its mandate to facilitate the return of peace and stability in Darfur. “Robust and increased patrols will remain the rule of the mission, as well as continuing collaboration with the UN Country Team and humanitarian actors to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities.”

Since 2003, when the deadly conflict erupted in Darfur between rebels, Government forces and allied militiamen, an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and about 2.7 million others have been displaced.

While a number of displaced people have returned to their homes, there are still some 1.8 million IDPs in Darfur. In an interview with the UN News Centre, Mr. Gambari acknowledged that this is “not normal,” and that while the UN is doing its best, there are certain conditions that have to be met so that people can go home.

These include security, some minimum social services such as schools and health clinics, and means of livelihood.

“Darfur should not be forgotten,” he stressed. “The world celebrated the independence of South Sudan; we need to celebrate the end of the fighting in Darfur, so the people of Darfur can begin to live normal lives, and these 1.8 million IDPs can safely and voluntarily return to their homes.”


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