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UN delegation to focus on Darfur deployment at African-European summit

6 December 2007 Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro is heading a United Nations delegation to this weekend’s African Union-European Union summit in Lisbon, where the ongoing struggle to deploy a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force to the war-wracked Darfur region of Sudan will be high on the agenda.

Ms. Migiro will be joined in the Portuguese capital by the UN High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and Small Island Developing States Cheick Sidi Diarra, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet and Deputy Chef de Cabinet Kim Won-Soo.

Mr. Mulet and Mr. Kim are scheduled to meet with the Sudanese delegation attending the summit on issues relating to the deployment of the hybrid force, known as UNAMID, to try to quell the fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied militias that has left at least 200,000 people dead and more than 2.2 million others displaced since 2003.

UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters today that the purpose of the talks on the sidelines of the summit will be to tackle and resolve the issue of the composition of UNAMID as well as “all other obstacles impeding” its deployment.

UNAMID is due to take over from the existing but under-resourced AU mission (known as AMIS) by the start of next month, but senior UN officials have warned that the deployment is in jeopardy because of a series of objections and obstacles raised by the Sudanese Government and the lack of offers for crucial force units.

The mission is short of one heavy and one medium transport unit, three military utility aviation units and one light helicopter unit, while an earlier pledge for one reconnaissance company has been withdrawn.

Khartoum is yet to approve units for the force, which is supposed to be predominantly African, from Thailand, Nepal and Scandinavia, and it has also not facilitated the acquisition of land and flight operations rights for UN aircraft, impeding the ability of UNAMID to carry out its mandate.

Choi Young-jin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, will also be attending the Lisbon gathering to participate in a separate mini-summit on the current challenges facing the West African nation.

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