Sudan

Sudan: UN and AU outline details of proposed hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur

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The planned hybrid United Nations-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Darfur will only succeed if its unity and coherence of command are not compromised and the Sudanese Government consents and cooperates, according to a joint report issued by the UN and AU and released today.

The report called the proposed force "an unprecedented undertaking" and outlines the mandate, structure, components and resource requirements. Written by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré, it cautioned that a peacekeeping operation in Darfur would not restore stability to the violence-wracked region without an inclusive political process.

"The operation's success depends critically on whether the Government of the Sudan will come to see the United Nations and the hybrid operation as part of the solution to the conflict in Darfur," the report said.

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.

Since the November agreement was reached, the Sudanese Government has raised objections to the presence of the UN in Darfur, and the report stated that the hybrid force's mandate must reflect the agreement of all the parties for it to succeed.

The report detailed two options for the size of the force's military component: under one plan, there would be 19,555 troops and under the other there would be 17,605 troops. The police component would require 3,772 officers.

An overall mandate must be approved by both the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council, and is likely to focus on the protection of civilians, the facilitation of full humanitarian access, the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the restoration of security through the enforcement of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

Rodolphe Adada, the joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur appointed earlier this month, would head the operation and be responsible for its management and functioning. The Force Commander would be an African, in line with a previous agreement, while several other senior appointments would be made jointly.

"All efforts will be made to ensure that the peacekeeping force will have a predominantly African character," the report stated.

Although the hybrid force would operate apart from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which is helping to enforce the peace in southern Sudan after a 2005 deal ended the country's separate long-running north-south civil war, there would be a strong liaison arrangement between the two operations. Existing UN humanitarian operations in Darfur would also be managed separately to the hybrid force.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Konaré make clear in the report that establishing such a multidimensional operation in Darfur presents particular challenges.

"Darfur is a remote and arid region, with harsh environmental conditions, poor communications, underdeveloped, poor infrastructure and extremely long land transport and supply lines from Port Sudan," they wrote.

The report was sent to Security Council members last week but formally released today.