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Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

22 July 2005

If the international community wished to reach a peace agreement in the Sudan’s Darfur area before the end of the year, it must invest time and energy to raise the confidence of leaders and commanders in all concerned parties, a senior United Nations official told correspondents at a Headquarters briefing today.

Speaking after he had briefed the Security Council on that country, Jan Pronk, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan and Head of the United Nations Mission there, stressed that the international community must stay united, keep the parties constantly talking -- rather than sending them to workshops or training sessions -- and avoid sending them mixed messages.

It must also assure the parties that the country would receive financial assistance that would go beyond humanitarian aid to assist with recovery, the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and development activities. The global community should also give a political guarantee that the Security Council would focus attention on the country if breaches to the agreement occurred, such as disputes over land rights or manipulation of power-sharing.

The international community, he went on, should also promise that it would provide and expand troops, preferably from the African Union, after the peace agreement to secure areas for the return of refugee and internally displaced persons. “Two million people must return, but they won’t if there is no security.”

Asked about resources to ensure peace throughout the Sudan, Mr. Pronk said estimates for this year had been revised from $1.5 to $2 billion, due to increases in the number of internally displaced persons returning, and the decrease in food production in Darfur. Half of that amount should go to Darfur and the rest to the south of the country, with half of those amounts going to food aid and the remainder to building livelihoods, and providing water and health services.

He added that about $200 million would be needed this year to finance and expand the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), noting that the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee was currently discussing the matter and would hopefully decide by the end of October. “Promises have been made, but must be turned into cash.”

Humanitarian needs in the country could decrease for 2006, he said, if people returned to Darfur and started producing food, but they would still need seeds, tools and other materials, and resources would simply shift from humanitarian assistance to recovery.

Stressing that investment should begin now for the country’s development, he said promises had been made at the Oslo Donors’ Conference for the Sudan, held in April of this year, but the amount pledged was less than what had been requested, and more was needed. To guarantee implementation of the peace agreement, the international community must look about six years ahead, and eventually to resources coming from the country itself.

The Sudan was the first conflict in the world, he added, where the afflicted country could promise to provide the bulk -- about $2 billion per year, or two thirds -- of the necessary financing. However, transparency was essential, and the Sudanese Government must provide a guarantee that needed finances would be allocated to development.

When another correspondent pointed out that only 40 per cent of the $2 billion needed had been provided for this year, Mr. Pronk said he had observed much interest, but had heard no commitments for increased financing, at a donor meeting earlier this week. He had called on diplomats to use political arguments in favour of providing the resources -- namely, that peace efforts would fail without them and the international community would need to start the entire process over again.

Asked for an example of “mixed messages”, he said countries had previously not been united in their efforts in the Sudan, speaking on their own initiatives, rather than preparing common statements. Now, partners held joint meetings, discussing what ought to be said and done, and some were acting on behalf of others, such as the European Union, the Arab League, and the African Union.

To another query about the delay in troop deployment, he said deadlines were always being postponed, but the full deployment of 10,000 should be in the country by the end of October. The problem was that the United Nations worked with country contingents that were not self-contained, with medical personnel coming from one country, for example, and engineers from another. Some countries refused to send their portion of the contingent until the doctors or some other vital component had arrived.

When another correspondent noted that the Sudanese Government was reportedly still paying the militias to fight, Mr. Pronk said he had heard those allegations for years, and would like to see proof of it. What was needed to underpin confidence was full transparency and a review of public expenditure, so that each party knew what the other was doing.

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