SUDAN WATCH: UN-AU mission leaves for Darfur in next few days

Friday, June 02, 2006

UN-AU mission leaves for Darfur in next few days

UN News Centre report June 2, 2006 - excerpt:
A joint United Nations-African Union team will head early next week to Darfur to assess the needs of the AU's peacekeeping mission there as well as the possible transition to a UN force, a senior United Nations official said today.

"This mission will be leaving in the next few days and will assemble in Addis in the first part of next week, it will then travel on to Khartoum as a joint team from UN-AU team," Hedi Annabi, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, told reporters after briefing the Security Council.

The mission will conduct consultations with the Sudanese Government before going to Darfur "to meet with the local authorities, establish contact with them, look into the requirements of AMIS (the AU Mission in Sudan) to enable that force to perform the additional tasks foreseen for AMIS under the Darfur Peace Agreement," he said.

"The mission will also conduct an assessment of the requirements of the transition to a UN peace operation" should such an operation be established, he added.

While the Government has agreed to the deployment of an assessment team to Darfur, it has not yet agreed to a transition to a UN operation. "I think that is it is understood that we are conducting the assessment mission without prejudice to the decisions that will need to be taken by the various actors involved - the Government of Sudan, the AU and the UN Security Council," Mr Annabi said.

"We have tried to make it clear to them that for us, the main purpose of that force would be to assist in the implementation of the provisions of the Darfur agreement," he noted. "In other words, a peacekeeping operation whose sole purpose would be to assist the parties who have concluded the agreement to bring back peace to that long-suffering region of Sudan."

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