UN Mission in Sudan News Bulletin - 29 May 2007

UNMIS celebrates International Peacekeeper's Day

UNMIS celebrated International Peacekeeper's Day throughout Sudan with rousing military parades, free medical clinics, sports events, photo exhibitions and readings of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message.

Reading Mr. Ban's message at a Khartoum ceremony, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Sudan, Manuel Aranda Da Silva, said the UN in 2006 was globally deploying more than 100,000 peacekeepers from 115 countries - both record numbers. They spoke, the Secretary-General said, of "unprecedented confidence in and expectations of United Nations peacekeeping".

Mr. Ban also noted that more than 100 peacekeepers worldwide had lost their lives in 2006 for the fourth year in a row while serving the cause of peace. "This brings home to us the risks that our colleagues in peacekeeping undertake on behalf of the international community to provide peace, security and hope to hundreds of millions of people," he said.

Also speaking during the Khartoum ceremony, which began with a "Salute" by the Rwandan contingent, Military Public Information Officer Sameer Srivastava noted that 21 military and civilian peacekeepers had lost their lives working with UNMIS since March 2005. The gathering then observed two minutes of silence for those who had died, which was followed by the "last post" bugle refrain.

Wrapping up the event, Mr. Da Silva handed out trophies to the winners of sports events held earlier to commemorate the day - a women's tug of war and a table tennis tournament. The Khartoum festivities also featured a photo and video exhibit of peacekeeping activities in Sudan.

Ceremonies to celebrate the day were also held in Juba, Malakal, Kadugli, Wau, Bentiu, Abyei and Ed Damazin. Following a military parade by the Indian contingent in Juba, Russian Aviation put on a mock rescue operation for a crowd of government officials, diplomats and military commanders. The centre was also expecting to hold a football match between UNMIS military and civilians later in the day.

This year was the fifth anniversary of International Peacekeeper's Day, which marks the day the UN opened its first peacekeeping operation (the UN Truce Supervision Organization) in 1948 in Palestine.

Humanitarian and Security situations

North Darfur

A joint UN agency assessment mission to Dobo Umba, 85 kilometers SW of El Fasher, was raided by 10 armed bandits on 28 May, while they were meeting with a group of IDPs. The mission, comprising 20 staff, were robbed at gun point and then herded into two of their five vehicles before they were asked to leave. Three of the vehicles that were taken away are still missing.

South Darfur

Early in the morning of the 28 May, a group of armed men forcibly entered an INGO compound in Saniafandu, 75 kilometers southeast of Nyala, and took at gun point keys of the three cars parked in the compound. Fortunately, the cars refused to start and the bandits were forced to leave. However, the staff were severely traumatized and 24 of them had to be relocated to Nyala.

West Darfur

A convoy of 50 vehicles carrying armed Sudanese rebels was reportedly observed on 28 May in the Jebel Moon area, 90 kilometers north of El Genina.

Southern Sudan

A man from the Luac tribe was killed near Rumbek in Warrap State over the weekend in what appears to be a revenge killing for a man from the Pakam tribe, who was killed earlier near Maleuth.

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