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AU mission in Sudan effective where deployed but needs strengthening - Annan

9 May 2005 The African Union's (AU) "groundbreaking" mission in Sudan is effective where deployed and needs strengthening to enable it to expand its presence to cover more of the vast and difficult terrain in Darfur, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report out today.

The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) has accomplished a remarkable amount in a very short time and despite significant constraints, Mr. Annan says in his report to the Security Council on how the UN can assist the AU's efforts to foster peace in troubled Darfur, where a two-year long conflict between the Government, its allied militias and rebels has killed tens of thousands of people and uprooted 1.8 million people from their homes, some 200,000 of them over the border to neighbouring Chad.

Describing the current situation in Darfur as "misleading," the Secretary-General says that while attacks on civilians are not occurring on the massive scale encountered in 2004, the violence continued – notably a brutal attack last month on the village of Khor Abeche, in southern Darfur – and the general level on insecurity remained unacceptable.

At the same time, where AMIS had deployed, it was doing an "outstanding job" under very difficult circumstances, and therefore needed to be strengthened in three phases in order to expand its work. He also outlines a complex multidimensional, 12,000-strong operation to contribute to a secure environment in Darfur which will permit full returns of displaced persons in time for the 2006 planting season.

"It is now critical for all concerned to do their part," Mr. Annan says, noting that AU members must now identify personnel to join the mission; the AU Commission must strengthen planning and management capacity in order to support an expanded mission; and partners must provide the AU with the means required to carry out a costly and challenging task.

In all this however, Mr Annan stresses that the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) can provide the AU with only "limited assistance," as UNMIS will have to focus all of its resources and attention on deploying is support of the implementations of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) covering the just-concluded separate conflict between the Government and rebels in the south.

"In addition, the operation in southern Sudan, which is the result of months of careful planning, should not be compromised or unduly strained, especially not during the delicate start-up process," he says.

With that in mind, the Secretary-General suggests that UNMIS can assist the AU in areas including identifying qualified police personnel; helping to develop a detailed expansion plan; providing advice in logistics, planning and management; supporting training of AU personnel; selecting police personnel for phase II; and supporting the convening of troop contributor and pledging conferences.

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