UNAMID Deputy Chief launches peace campaign, urges dialogue in West Darfur

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El Geneina, 19 May 2014 – UNAMID Deputy Joint Special Representative Joseph Mutaboba, on the second day of his two-day trip to El Geneina, West Darfur, inaugurated a women’s centre in the locality of Masteri and delivered a speech at the Ministry of Social Affairs to launch the final phase of UNAMID’s “We Need Peace Now” campaign, coming just before the formal commencement of Darfur’s internal dialogue process, as stipulated in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

UNAMID’s Deputy Chief undertook the two-day trip to Darfur’s western state to meet with Sudanese Government representatives, members of the local community, and UNAMID staff working to implement recovery and development projects in the area. On Sunday, he inaugurated a community-based, labour-intensive project in Ardamata, toured the new El Geneina airport facilities constructed by UNAMID and met with the Deputy Wali to discuss West Darfur’s development and security needs.

Today, he visited the locality of Masteri to inaugurate a women’s centre, built through funding provided by the Mission’s quick-impacts projects programme. The event drew several hundred members of the local community, who celebrated the occasion with traditional music, song and dances. “When we talk about women, we are talking about the whole of society,” said the DJSR to those gathered for the inauguration, noting that the women’s centre belongs to the people of Darfur, not to UNAMID. “If we want stability for the future of this country, let us empower women.”

At the Ministry of Social Affairs, the DJSR joined West Darfur Wali (Governor) Haider Galukoma Ateem and Ms. Suad Salih, the West Darfur Minister of Social Affairs, Youth and Sports, along with other Ministers, to launch the final phase of the “We Need Peace Now” campaign, a Darfur-wide outreach effort undertaken by UNAMID’s Communications and Public Information Section to motivate the young people of Darfur to do everything in their power to bring their communities together and embrace peace.

In a speech at the event, which drew more than 500 women, men and young people from in and around El Geneina, Wali Ateem thanked the DJSR for UNAMID’s support and identified the critical need to continue to discuss development in West Darfur. The Wali highlighted the improvement of the areas security situation, likening it to the safety in the years before the decade-long conflict. “The West Darfur security situation, which is the responsibility of all social institutions, is better now than it has been in 10 years,” he said. “I call on all combatants to lay down their arms and join the dialogue process.”

The DJSR also spoke at the event, and urged the residents of West Darfur to eschew the bitterness caused by the bloodshed of the past and take inspiration instead from the years gone by when Darfur and Darfuris were one, celebrating their many differences, sharing their music and art and other parts of the rich cultural heritage of this unique region of Africa. “We must look to this time and remind ourselves that if we can set aside the past 10 years of conflict and each of us work toward peace, indeed a bright future awaits this beautiful land,” he said. “Let us not forget that you have no other place to call your own but this land that is in your care.”

Mr. Mutaboba said that the final phase of the “We Need Peace Now” campaign marks the beginning of a new campaign, that of the Darfur Internal Dialogue and Consultation process, which is stipulated in the DDPD as an all-inclusive process designed to allow all Darfuris to make their voices heard on the implementation of the DDPD and the peace process. The DJSR urged everyone in attendance at the event, and especially the young people, to get involved in the process as an opportunity in which healthy discussion will be nourished, and use the process as a rallying point to promote dialogue.

“I know that, one day, hopefully soon, the cities, towns and villages of this great land of Darfur will be populated by young people whose faces will show joy and not sadness,” he said. “One day, hopefully soon, the peace you seek now may even be taken for granted, with the conflict of the past only a painful memory, a reminder of the benefits of solidarity, reconciliation and dialogue.”