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Darfur: Ban Ki-moon welcomes group backing UN-AU peacekeeping force

6 March 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the initiative to set up a group of “Friends of UNAMID,” the hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping operation deployed to Darfur to try to quell the violence and suffering in the war-wracked Sudanese region.

The new group is tasked with supporting the deployment of the mission, which should eventually have almost 26,000 troops, police officers and military observers at full capacity but as of the end of January had only 9,080 uniformed personnel. Its first meeting was convened by the United States and Canada today in New York.

In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban urged all the troop and police contributors to UNAMID to expedite the deployment of the units and assets they have pledged to the mission.

“In this connection, the Secretary-General also welcomes the initiative of the US Government to help accelerate the deployment of UNAMID by providing $100 million to African troop-contributing countries for training and equipping military units which have been pledged for UNAMID,” the statement noted.

“The Secretary-General also urges Member States to provide the outstanding enabling units, including air assets, in order to permit UNAMID to achieve full operating capacity.”

Stressing the need for “sustained and focused international engagement on both peacekeeping and the political process in Darfur,” Mr. Ban called on all parties to the conflict to engage in good-faith negotiations to try to bring the crisis to an end.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million displaced from their homes since 2003, when rebels began fighting Government forces and allied militia in the arid and impoverished region on Sudan's western flank.

In a related development, Mr. Ban is scheduled to travel to Dakar, Senegal, next week to attend the summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), as well as a mediation meeting between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Chadian President Idriss Déby.

That meeting, which will be chaired by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, is aimed and defusing tensions and amending relations between the neighbouring countries.



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