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UN mission calls on Darfurians to seek peace

2 June 2008 – A top official of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) called on Darfurians today to stop fighting and seek the path of peace.

Deputy Joint Special Representative Henry Anyidoho made the call at the Ad Da’en horse festival in South Darfur, where he spoke with principal Arab tribal leaders from the Rizegat community, local officials and intellectuals. The four-day festival, which ended today, provides a platform for tribal and ethnic reconciliation and mediation and has been an important date in the Darfurian calendar since the 1920s.

“Let’s return to the path of peace,” Mr Anyidoho said. “It is easier to stop than to continue fighting; why must you choose the more difficult option?” He stressed that UNAMID was working with all parties to the conflict, and called on Darfurians to banish any misconceptions and doubts about the neutrality of the joint force.

Mr. Anyidoho explained the mandate and role of UNAMID to the tribal leaders and reminded them that many peacekeepers from different parts of Africa had laid down their lives in the cause of peace in Darfur. “Don’t let their sacrifices go in vain,” he said, adding that the only way to honour them was to ensure that sustainable peace returned to the region.

He advised Darfurians to question themselves about the root causes of the fighting, adding that there could not be any development in Darfur in an atmosphere of rancour and conflict.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, is in Sudan for consultations with the Government of Sudan and other stakeholders.

UNAMID took over peacekeeping operations from an AU mission at the start of this year. The mission’s goal is to end the deadly clashes and humanitarian suffering that has engulfed the Darfur region of western Sudan since rebels began fighting Government forces and allied militiamen in 2003.

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