Salim says Darfurians want peace urgently

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Residents of the war-wracked Darfur region in wes tern Sudan want peace as soon as is feasible, according to Salim Ahmed Salim, th e African Union (AU) Special Envoy to the region.
"If I were a Darfurian, I would have extreme difficulty to understand how come a fter all the hullabaloo and the justifiable concerns that have been made by the i nternational community on the need to deploy a (peace-keeping) force, one year l a ter this force has not been fully deployed.
"From a Darfurian point of view, I would say really, this doesn't demonstrate th e commitment we expected the international community to do," Salim told PANA on a rrival here Thursday to brief the Peace and Security Council of the AU on the on g oing mediation aimed at bringing the five-year conflict in Darfur to an end.
The UN Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Elliason and the AU/UN Joint Special Repres entative for Darfur, Radolphe Adada, accompanied Salim.
"We are here to brief the PSC and to urge for their own action as we are going t o do also on 24 June 2008 in the UN Security Council," said Salim, explaining th e ir mission was being undertaken in the light of the discussions they had about a week ago in Geneva, Switzerland, with international and regional partners about t he troubled region.
Regarding the peace negotiations with parties to the Darfur conflict, Salim lame nted that progress had been agonisingly slow while the situation continued to de t eriorate.
He said the strained relationship between Sudan and Chad had also complicated th e issue.
"At one time the disagreement between the NCP and the SPLM had also its own adve rse effects.
We welcome the fact that now things seem to be moving in the right d irection as far as the SPLM and the NCP (are concerned).
"But, essentially Darfur cannot be divorced from the rest of the problem in Suda n.
You have progress in Darfur, it has an impact on the rest of Sudan.
You don't have progress in Darfur, it also has a different impact," Salim said.
In the view of the Envoy, the Darfur situation needs a reassessment so that all stakeholders could rethink the strategy for the way forward.
"All the efforts we have made so far, of trying to bring the (rebel) movements t ogether into a united movement have not been successful.
We will continue with t h ese efforts but, clearly, we have to think in terms of carrying on with consulta t ions with them hoping they will form a common front.
"The number one issue in Darfur is security.
Wherever we have been in Darfur, th e people in different areas, whether they are in government areas or movement ar e as, the issue of security is number one," Salim pointed out.
He said the government of Sudan had responsibility for security, the movements h ad responsibility for security, and the UN and the AU in the context of UNAMID h a d that responsibility as well.
On the deployment of additional troops for the UNAMID (UN/AU Mission in Darfur), Salim said it was " very regretful that despite all the efforts made so far, th e deployment has been very slow.
Very agonisingly slow.
" He said everybody has a share of responsibility for what is going on in Darfur.
"It is not a blame game.
We are really not in the blame game.
What we are keen t o say is that it is the people of Darfur who are suffering.
The situation there i s absolutely of concern to us.
"We think the government has responsibility, the movements have responsibility, the regional countries have a responsibility, we of the mediation have a respons i bility and the international community has a role to play in Darfur.
" According to Salim, the most important thing is to have a convergence of positio ns of all these actors, adding the PSC, being an organ that has been given speci f ic mandate to follow the issues of peace and security in Africa also has a parti c ular responsibility to do that.
Regarding the public opinion in Darfur about the dragging peace negotiations, Sa lim said: "Everybody says they want to resolve the conflict.
But, unfortunately, the declarations of commitment are not matched by concrete action.
For instance, he said the mediation team had been trying to convene a meeting to discuss security issues, but that initiative had not succeeded because some of t he movements had their own pre-conditions.
"All I want to say is that in a sense, for as long as the issue of Darfur is not resolved everybody has a responsibility," he emphasised.
Salim paid tribute to African governments that have deployed troops for peace-ke eping in the region.
"African governments have been more than forthcoming.
They have done so in very difficult conditions.
The issue is to get the requisite resources for deployment .
Most of the troops in Darfur are from Africa.
"You have a commitment of the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Senegalese, Nigerians, Tanz anians and so on.
African countries have on this issue, come out extremely well, in terms of matching their word with action.
"UNAMID has not only to be deployed, but robustly deployed.
It has to have the n ecessary means, the necessary equipment, even transportation means," he said.
Elaborating, Salim mentioned the issue of getting helicopters for the peace-keep ers in the desert region.
"In my opinion, it is beyond my imagination to understand how is it possible tha t in this day and age, it is very difficult to get 26 helicopters for the UN and African Mission in Sudan.
I believe countries can do more, especially those who h ave the means.
" Salim noted that one year since the international community pledged to support t he peace efforts in Darfur, the peace-keeping force on the ground was basically m ore or less the same force that was deployed as the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS).

12 june 2008 16:31:00

xhtml CSS