UN, AU to continue operations in Darfur, says commander

New York- UN (PANA) -- The Force Commander of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), General Martin Agwai of Nigeria, said Monday that the peacekeepers would continue to operate in the region.
The Pan African News Agency (PANA) at the UN, reports that Agwai statement followed moves by non-essential UN staff to relocate due to the recent deteriorating security situation in Darfur.
``We are going to maintain our operations in Darfur and we will also continue to implement our mandate,'' he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by UNAMID.
He said that force protection levels and patrolling would remain the same under the move to security level Phase 1V.
The commander also said ``we will continue to conduct patrols and security, as well as protect UN personnel and UN facilities on the ground.
``In addition, we will continue to assist the humanitarian organisations to do their job of rendering humanitarian services to the people in Darfur.
'' He further disclosed that the mission had been assessing recent security incidents and attacks against peacekeepers, including a series of car-jackings and last week's attack at Um Hakibah, which was described as the worst in UNAMID's six-month history.
PANA learnt that due to recent events in Darfur, UNAMID moved to security level Phase 1V 12 July.
The implementation of the security level Phase 1V is a formal UN process which will involve the temporary relocation of non-essential UNAMID staff in coming days.
PANA learnt that critical personnel engaged in all security and humanitarian operations will remain working at UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher, the Sector offices in El Geneina and Nyala and in other mission locations across Darfur.
It will be recalled that on 8 July, seven UNAMID peacekeepers were killed and 22 injured, with seven in critical condition after a rebel attack in Um Hakibah in North Darfur.
Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said the UN will also continue ``its vital humanitarian and development work'' in Darfur region.
``We therefore expect that the government of Sudan will continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations in Sudan, while fulfilling its obligation to ensure the safety and security of all United Nations personnel and property,'' Ban said in a statement.
PANA reports that the tension heightened in Sudan following Monday's announcement of genocide charges against President Omar Al-Bashir by the Prosecutor of The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

14 july 2008 22:39:00

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