UN tasks member states on UN/AU Darfur mission

New York- US (PANA) -- The UN has again called on member states to provide the `` critical logistical equipment'' needed to empower the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (U N AMID).
``More than a year after it was set up, the UN-AU hybrid operation in Darfur sti ll lacks critical logistical equipment, especially air power,'' UN Secretary-Gen e ral Ban Ki-moon said in a report, which he prepared for the UN Security Council.
A copy of the report, made available to the Pan African News Agency (PANA) on Th ursday, said that the UN/AU mission in the Sudanese war-torn region was currentl y at about 60 per cent of its mandated strength.
Ban stated in the report that, ``the provision of outstanding equipment, in part icular military helicopter assets, remains critical to increasing the mobility a n d operational impact of the mission''.
He called on member states who are in a position ``to provide these vital resour ces to do so without further delay''.
Reviewing UNAMID's operations for the months of December and January, the secret ary-general said that the mission's current deployment stood at some 18,300 pers o nnel out of a mandated 31,544.
According to him: ``Military personnel numbered 12,541 (64 per cent of the manda ted 19,555) as of January 31, police 2,639 (41 per cent of its mandated 6,432), a nd civilian personnel 3,129 (56 per cent of the mandated 5,557), The UN chief also noted that, ``despite significant improvement in moving equipm ent with the aid of five chartered planes and a United States airlift from Rwand a , the logistical shortcomings is still a problem to the mission's effective oper a tions''.
Ban lamented that, ``Darfur is wracked by rebel offensives and Sudanese governme nt counter-attacks, including aerial bombardments, inter-tribal fighting, increa s ing violence against civilians, attacks on humanitarian workers, and crimes and c arjackings against UN personnel''.
He also said: ``The mission's actual operational impact has been limited by logi stical constraints and inadequate supply of critical equipment''.
Others, he wrote, ``is the continued absence of key military enabling units such as the medium transport units, an aerial reconnaissance unit, a level-II hospit a l and 18 medium utility helicopters''.
The UN scribe further called on Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Senegal, Thailand and Ta nzania to deploy quickly their infantry battalions, while urging other troop con t ributing countries to provide necessary support for such deployment.
This, he said ``would constitute a significant increase in the mission's troop s trength and enhance its protection capability and ability to implement its core m andated tasks''.
Summing up the overall security situation, he highlighted the ``dramatic securit y deterioration across Darfur''.
``The escalation in the level of violence in Darfur signals an investment in con flict rather than a serious commitment to peaceful negotiations,'' Ban said.
The secretary-general, however, stressed the need for a concerted effort by all parties to reach a comprehensive settlement.
He noted that during the reporting period, political progress was impeded by the military action of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and resumption of government air bombardments.
He stated that issue of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (I CC) in The Hague against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir on charges of war cri m es in Darfur, is also causing a source of concern in the country and in the inte r national scene.
But, beyond the conflict and tension in Darfur region, the UN chief said: ``The sustained cooperation of the government of the Sudan during the past few months h as been important in achieving this level of deployment''.

12 february 2009 19:41:00

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