El Fasher, 25 January 2012 – Listening to the concerns of local stakeholders across Darfur and engaging them in the peace process was the focus of African Union – United Nations Joint Special Representative (JSR) Ibrahim Gambari over the past week.
The JSR, who travelled to localities in North, Central and South Darfur, from 19 to 23 January 2012, met with traditional leaders, representatives of internally displaced persons (IDPs), and local authorities.
The aim of the visits was to reaffirm UNAMID's continued commitment to implement its core mandate and support for the peace process. The JSR received comments from the local population about their priorities, especially in the areas of security; provision of health and education facilities; means of livelihood; and, recovery and development.
On the first of his visits, JSR Gambari met with the leadership of the Kassab and Fataborno IDP camps in Kutum, North Darfur. Notable among the primary concerns of the residents were the cases of rape in and around the camp. In addressing the issue, the JSR vowed that he would raise the matter with the local authorities and that troops would be instructed to increase the number of night patrols.
In the new state of Central Darfur, the UNAMID chief interacted with IDP leaders along the Zalingei corridor. He held discussions with the combined representatives of Hassa Hissa and Hamediya camps. Most notably the youths, focussed largely on the need to bring the non-signatories on-board to join the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and the need to address their specific concerns.
Finally in Greida, the JSR interacted with the residents of Donki Abyei camp, where he stressed that security would remain UNAMID's highest priority, noting that the Mission would continue to maintain a robust posture in protecting civilians. He emphasized that the DDPD would be a step in the right direction and that he would use his position as acting Joint Chief Mediator to encourage others to join in the move for peace.
In addition to meeting with IDPs, the JSR made use of his visits by holding constructive meetings with local authorities and civil society representatives. Several commissioners expressed appreciation to UNAMID and noted the need to implement more developmental projects in the area.
The overriding theme for the JSR’s visits was to convey the need for peace in Darfur. “This is a cooperative effort. It’s about making peace for the good of all. This is the only way forward,” Mr. Gambari said in summing up the visits.