Darfur close to peace, AU-UN envoy says

18 January 2012- Darfur is closer to a comprehensive peace than it has ever been, the head of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) told some 1,000 peacekeeping staff in his first town hall meeting of 2012.

“We must therefore redouble our efforts and work with full dedication and commitment.” said Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari, who is also the interim Joint Chief Mediator in the Darfur peace process.

“Darfur is at a crossroads: one direction is toward more peace, more progress, more movement toward early recovery and development; and one side is leaning towards the enemies of peace, the spoilers,” he added. JSR Gambari noted the significant steps taken recently to implement the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.

On 16 January 2012, UNAMID hosted the second meeting of the Follow-on Implementation Commission which oversees DDPD progress. Chaired by the Government of Qatar, the body of International envoys, the Government of Sudan and the Darfur Regional Authority praised progress in realizing several key steps set out by the Document.

The Darfur Regional Authority, a “new partner” for UNAMID, will be inaugurated on 6 February 2012 in El Fasher, Gambari noted. Assisting the DRA to “bring the seeds of prosperity back to Darfur” will be one of UNAMID’s key priorities for 2012. The other is “kick-starting the mediation to consolidate the peace process and the gains achieved so far.”

JSR Gambari paid tribute to the sacrifices by peacekeepers during 2011, “a difficult year for the UNAMID family.” Seven military and police personnel “made the ultimate sacrifice while working to advance peace in Darfur.”

He also commented on the 24 December death of Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement, with whom Gambari had met in the process of negotiations leading up to the Darfur document. “Every human life is precious and we mourn every loss. The people of Darfur have suffered through too many deaths and losses.”

He urged staff to continue their commitment to helping Darfur achieve a sustainable peace: “Now is the time to build a new future, a common future and a peaceful and prosperous future for all Darfuris. There is no military solution to the conflict in Darfur. Peace, compromise and common understanding are the only ways forward….The people of Darfur want it, need it and deserve it.”

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