UN Mission in Sudan News Bulletin - 10 May 2007

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deeply concerned by aerial bombardments report in North Darfur, the DPA Joint Commission notes that bombardments took place

In a statement attributable to his Spokesperson issued yesterday 9 May, the UN Secretary-General expressed deep concern by reports of aerial bombardments in North Darfur which have taken place over the last three weeks.

The following is the full text of the statement:

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by reports of aerial bombardments in North Darfur which have taken place over the last three weeks. These attacks have brought more destruction and loss of life, including new displacement of civilians. In one instance, the school in the village of Um Rai was struck by rockets fired from a Government helicopter.

The Secretary General strongly urges the Government of Sudan to cease all attacks and to comply fully with the Darfur Peace Agreement, Security Council resolutions and international humanitarian law. He reiterates that only a political solution can bring peace and stability to Darfur and calls on the parties to renounce military action. He further calls on both the Government and all movements to immediately stop military hostilities and cooperate fully with the African Union and United Nations team which is leading efforts to mediate an end to this devastating conflict.

In a Communiqué issued yesterday on its sixth meeting held in Khartoum on 9 May, the Darfur Peace Agreement Joint Commission (JC) stated the following: The Joint Commission took note that bombardments of targets by GoS, particularly in North Darfur, did take place. These aerial attacks were criticised, but the meeting took note of GoS explanation that they were carried out in self defence. The meeting reiterated that there can never be a military solution to the conflict, and called on all the Parties to exercise restraint, even in the face of provocation. They must observe complete cessation of hostilities, in order for the ongoing efforts to revitalise the political peace process to succeed.

The JC meeting was chaired by the Acting Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Mrs. Monique Mukaruliza, and was attended by the signatories of the DPA and Declaration of Commitment (DoC), the UN, the EU and the US as members, and Canada, France, the League of Arab States, Libya, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, and the UK as observers.

On the prevailing security situation in Darfur, the Joint Commission observed the intensification of banditry activities targeting, amongst others, the international aid agencies, took note, with serious concern, of the increase in scale and frequency of tribal clashes which has claimed many lives, mostly unarmed civilians, took note with serious concern, that attacks against AMIS, particularly the abduction and killing of its personnel, has continued and condemned this trend, regretted that all these trends have contributed to further displacement of people, and reduction in humanitarian access.

On the disarmament of the Janjaweed, the JC endorsed the ongoing efforts to finalise the Disarmament Plan, and called on the Joint AMIS/GoS Committee, established for this purpose, to accelerate its work.

On the effective functioning of the CFC Second Chamber, the JC noted with regret that the CFC is seriously handicapped in carrying out its investigative duties, and this has continued to weaken the ceasefire in Darfur; endorsed the recommendation of the CFC chairperson that a formula acceptable to all the parties must be found and agreed upon, as a way forward, noted the refusal by the GoS and the non-signatories to accept the position regarding the deployment of the non-signatory party representatives, and called on them to show leadership, commitment and flexibility, and accept to implement this formula, without delay, in the interest of re-establishing peace, stability and security in Darfur, and called on the non-signatories to join the AU/UN led peace process, and to stop hostile activities in Darfur.

The Joint Commission identified the need for the urgent provision of non-military logistic support to the movements, as a way of discouraging banditry activities in Darfur, and called on AMIS to accelerate the process of the compilation of the movements non-military logistic needs, as well as the setting up of the Logistics Coordination Committee (LCC). In this connection, the Commission called on the movements to submit their needs within one week from the day of this session.

The Joint Commission decided that the next regular meeting should take place in the second week of June 2007. The venue of the meeting will be decided by the Chairperson, in consultation with members and observers.

Special Envoys for Darfur Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim to warp up their third joint visit to Sudan today

UN and AU Special Envoys for Darfur Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim are due to conclude their third joint visit to Sudan today. Since their arrival to Sudan on 8 May, the two Envoys held a series of internal meetings with the UN/AU Joint Mediation Support Team to discuss and follow up on the results of the two Envoys efforts so far as well the next steps to be undertaken to move forward with the political process. The two Envoys also met yesterday with First Vice-President and President of the Government of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir. They discussed with him the SPLM initiative aimed at bringing the DPA non-signatories on board on the peace process. Today, the two Envoys met with Presidential Advisor Majzoub Al Khalifa. They will also meet with the diplomatic community based in Khartoum. The two Envoys held a press conference today at UNMIS Headquarters at 2 p.m.

Security and Humanitarian Developments in Darfur

North Darfur

On 9 May, a UN mission with two vehicles and four staff members (one international and three nationals) on its way from El Fasher to Shangil Tobayi was stopped by at gunpoint by unknown armed men after crossing a Government checkpoint in Zam Zam , 13 kilometers South of El Fasher. The attackers fired one shot, seized the staff members, and drove away with the UNMIS cars. UN Security located the staff yesterday in a place called Harada which is 70 km North of El Fasher. The hijackers dropped them off around that area after they robbed them of their satellite phones. The staff members were flown back to Al Fasher today, 10 April. The hijacked cars were also located yesterday and they are expected to be handed over today to UNMIS. The hijackers were arrested are they are currently under the Government police custody.

West Darfur

From 8 to 09 May, UNMIS El Geneina conducted a field mission to Habbilah. UNMIS confirmed that Chadian civilians have been entering the area for the last three months from Foro Baranga to Beida. The mission was told that between 1,000 to 6,000 newcomers are currently concentrated in Mangarsa, 30 km south of Habila. Allegedly fleeing attacks in Chad, the Chadian civilians are reported to have brought their cattle and belongings with the intention of a long-term stay.

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