Darfur peace mission embarks on heavy military deployment

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Sudan has signed an agreement with the joint Unit ed Nations, African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), allowing the force full ac c ess to use its airports in Khartoum and Darfur to transport heavy military hardw a re into the country.
Sudan's Civil Aviation Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with UNAMI D in Addis Ababa, Monday, granting the peacekeeping mission access to its airpor t facilities and allowing the joint UN/AU force to upgrade the airport facilities .
UNAMID's Deputy Special Representative Hocine Medili said the force had been fac ing various challenges in achieving the full deployment of troops and other mili t ary hardware required to make the Darfur mission to effectively carry out its ma n date.
"We now have the possibility of addressing the challenges that we have been faci ng at the level of the states.
But this does not mean we still do not face many c hallenges, we have the challenges due to infrastructure," Medili told journalist s here.
UNAMID officials said the force had been seeking to extensively use the airport facilities in Khartoum and Darfur to transport heavy military hardware, but the f orce had been unable to get uninterrupted access to airport facilities over the l ast one year.
Medili said the agreement signed with the Sudanese civil aviation authority, wou ld allow UNAMID to upgrade the airport runways and improve runway lighting in Da r fur and Khartoum to allow for a 24-hour operation that would fast-track UNAMID's capacity.
"We have been requesting to use the airport facilities extensively to receive hi gh facility aircraft and allow movement of equipment into Darfur," Medili said.
The African Union, UN and the representatives from the Sudanese government held a day-long meeting at AU Commission headquarters here to address the challenges f acing the Darfur peacekeeping mission and tried to iron out differences amongst t hem.
Sudan's Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Dr.
Saddiq Mutrif said the meeting h eld in Addis Ababa, was the third of its kind on Darfur and was aimed at ironing out various technical issues regarding the operations of the UN-AU force.
"We decided to have this mechanism regarding UNAMID to address the false allegat ions that have been thrown around that Sudan is delaying the full deployment fro m either side," Mutrif told journalists.
"We are working together.
This is to confirm that Sudan and UNAMID are working t ogether to see the full deployment of UNAMID.
It is not the intention of either p arty to delay UNAMID," the Sudanese official affirmed.
UNAMID said it has more than 30 aircraft which requires adequate packing space b oth in Darfur and Khartoum, which it has not been able to get, due to the limite d capacity available at both places, in Khartoum and in Darfur.
UNAMID said it would deploy its engineering units to undertake surveys on the ki nd of improvements required to make the UNAMID hybrid operation a success.

19 january 2009 18:00:00

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