El Fasher, 21 March 2013—Humanitarian aid, civilian protection and criminal elements were among the central issues raised in a 17-19 March visit to Sudan by the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC).
The mission of the 24 members of the AUPSC, led by Ambassador Bulus Paul Zom Lolo of Nigeria, was to gain a first-hand assessment of the situation in Darfur. This assessment was carried out largely through direct engagement with stakeholders at all levels, including the Government, Sudanese civilians and the international community working in Darfur.
The first day of the visit was spent in talks in Khartoum with Sudan Foreign Minister Ali Karti and African Ambassadors. There, issues focused on greater humanitarian access to areas of conflict, increased protection of women and children, and the urgency to address indiscriminate attacks against African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeepers. These concerns were echoed in subsequent meetings with additional stakeholders during the next two days in Darfur.
On 18 March, the delegation traveled to El Fasher, North Darfur, where its members met with Assistant Darfur Regional Authority Chairperson Yasin Abdarahman Yosef, North Darfur Deputy Wali (Governor) Alfateh Abdalziz, and UNAMID leadership.
Mr. Yosef expressed his gratitude for the AU’s role in the mediation process in support of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and assistance with the upcoming Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Refugees Conference, which will be held next week in Nyala. Ambassador Lolo praised the work of the Authority while commending those parties who have signed the DDPD and noting that the AUPSC wants to see Sudan “re-engaged with the world.” In the delegation’s meeting with the Deputy Wali, the Sudanese official expressed hope that non-signatory parties will join the peace process.
The Council then traveled to Nyala, South Darfur to meet with IDPs, South Darfur Wali Hamad Ismail, and UNAMID officials.
At the Otash IDP camp, community leaders expressed their wish for peace and their desire to return to their places of origin. Ambassador Lolo assured them of the AU’s commitment while urging traditional leaders to lead the peace efforts and to continue to serve as role models to youth in the camps. He noted that the tour of the camp allowed the AUPSC “the opportunity to reflect and see the challenges that need to be addressed with their own eyes.”
In their meeting with the Wali, Mr. Ismail expressed his gratitude to UNAMID for its assistance in rendering aid to all parties in the Doha peace process. He further spoke of the IDP conference in Nyala as prerequisite for the Doha Donors Conference set for next month.