Sudan: Secretary-General transmits report to Security Council on Darfur hybrid force

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has transmitted his revised report to the Security Council regarding the planned hybrid United Nations-African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission for the violence-wracked Darfur region of Sudan.

In his letter to the 15-member Council's President, Mr. Ban wrote that the AU had requested some additional clarifications and revisions to the report, his spokesperson told reporters in New York today.

Based on further consultations with the AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré, these changes are reflected in the text, she added.

Mr. Konaré will take steps to submit the revised report to the AU Peace and Security Council.

Last November, the Government, the UN and the AU agreed to the creation of a hybrid force in Darfur as the third phase of a three-step process to replace the existing but under-resourced AU Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), which has been unable to end the fighting.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million others displaced from their homes since clashes erupted in 2003 between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias and rebel groups.

In another development, the number of displaced Sudanese helped by the UN to return home has topped 100,000, according to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Since last January, more than 55,000 refugees and almost 50,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been transported to their places of origin - a remarkable achievement, given that just two years ago flying or even driving between most towns in southern Sudan was impossible.

This milestone represents a significant step towards implementing the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the decades-long north-south civil war - which is separate from the conflict in the Darfur region.

UNHCR has led all of the refugee operations in the region and has participated in monitoring efforts to ensure that the returnees' concerns have been addressed. In addition, the agency also works with its partners in implementing reintegration programmes involving health, education, water and sanitation, as well as income-generating projects in the main areas where Sudanese are returning.

IOM has provided transportation for all IDPs and many refugees from abroad, while UNMIS has supplied coordination services.

Other UN agencies, including the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), and numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also contributed to the effort.

Sudan poses challenges to aid workers, with most of the south of the country inaccessible during the June-December rainy season, and IOM has utilized air, river, rail and road corridors to return Sudanese to their homes areas.

However, the UN reported that much remains to be done. Basic services such as the supply of clean water, health care and education are not keeping pace with demand, in spite of assistance from the Government and the international community.

The number of Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries has dropped significantly since 2004, falling from 515,000 to 270,000. Repatriation operations from the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have ended. Large-scale returns continue from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, with fewer numbers repatriating from Libya and Egypt.