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Security Council welcomes African Union's peacekeeping role in Darfur, Sudan

12 May 2005 The United Nations Security Council today applauded the African Union (AU) for the peacemaking leadership role it has taken in the troubled Darfur region of western Sudan, especially its decision to expand its small peacekeeping mission there to over 7,000 persons, and pledged to facilitate aid to the continental organization.

A statement read by this month's Council President, Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Løj of Denmark, said the 15-member body looked forward to close coordination between the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in the south and the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in the west.

It recalled its request to UNMIS "to closely and continuously liaise and coordinate, at all levels, with the African Union Mission in Sudan with a view towards expeditiously reinforcing the effort to foster peace in Darfur, especially with regard to the Abuja peace process" and AMIS.

Talks between the rebel movements and the Government of Sudan in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, stalled in December. The AU has been trying to revive the negotiations.

The Council also supported the decision by the AU Peace and Security Council on 28 April, after a joint assessment mission of the AU, UN and other representatives to Darfur reported back, to expand its mission to 7,731 personnel by the end of September.

The European Union has played an active role in assisting the AU, as have some bilateral donors, the Security Council said.

It welcomed a second joint assessment mission earlier this month, as well as "the effort and intention" of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to consult closely with the African Union on the scope and nature of possible UN support to AMIS.

A UN spokesperson said the 10,000 troops of UNMIS would be in place in 240 days from the start of the mandate on 24 March.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said clashes took place yesterday at a camp for refugees from Darfur in neighbouring Chad because Chadian gendarmes responsible for guarding the 12 refugee camps objected to the refugees selling plastic sheeting. Plastic sheeting is one of the non-food relief items UNHCR provides.

The gendarmes arrested three refugees and a group of refugee protesters burned down the community centre in a nearby village, provoking further clashes with the local authorities.

UNHCR said it learned that one Chadian gendarme was killed, while two Sudanese refugees, two humanitarian aid workers and one gendarme were injured.

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