Sudan

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sends report on proposed hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sent a report to the Security Council detailing the proposed hybrid African Union (AU)-United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force to stem the deadly violence wracking Sudan's Darfur region, his spokesperson announced today.

The joint AU-UN report has been sent to Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad of the United States, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council this month, and to the AU Peace and Security Council after close consultations between Mr. Ban and AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré.

The next step would be for the proposal to be presented to the Sudanese Government, Mr. Ban's spokesperson Marie Okabe said.

The hybrid force is expected to comprise about 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers, and represents the third and final phase of the process to replace the existing AU mission in Darfur, known as AMIS, which has been hampered by a lack of resources. Most of the troops in the hybrid operation will be African.

As part of the first phase, known as the "light support package," the UN handed over medical support items ranging from a fully equipped ambulance to pharmaceutical products, such as drugs and vaccines, to AMIS.

Under the second phase, "the heavy support package," which the Sudanese Government has endorsed, the UN provides some troops, police officers, civilian staff, helicopter gunships and other resources to AMIS.

The hybrid proposal has been sent amid mounting international concern at the situation inside Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million others forced to flee their homes since 2003 because of fighting between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias and rebel groups.

Yesterday Mr. Konaré, in consultation with Mr. Ban, appointed Gen. Martin L. Agwai of Nigeria - who has previously served the UN in Sierra Leone and as a military adviser - as the new Force Commander of AMIS.

"The Secretary-General welcomes this decision and looks forward to Gen. Agwai's close cooperation with the UN to facilitate the deployment of the Heavy Support Package for AMIS and to eventually command the hybrid AU-UN operation in Darfur," his spokesperson said in a statement issued today.