El Fasher, 30 December 2011--On the occasion of the New Year, which coincides with Sudan’s Independence Day, and on behalf of the African Union and United Nations, I would like to extend my sincere wishes to the people of Darfur and the Government of Sudan for a happy and peaceful new year.
Before we bid farewell to 2011, let us remember some of the significant developments of the past 12 months: following the All Darfur Stakeholders Conference, which was supported by UNAMID, the Doha Darfur Peace Document (DDPD) was signed by the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement on 14 July. The DDPD has signaled a new start to the peace process. Several entities called for by the DDPD have been established, and on 27 December, the Darfur Regional Authority was announced. UNAMID will work closely with this new partner with the goal of a strong, inclusive and effective DRA.
UNAMID also worked in support of the United Nations Country Team in providing humanitarian assistance and facilitating access to remote areas of Darfur like the Jebel Marra. We have also supported the Government as it facilitated the slow but steady progress of voluntary returns of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. With the Government of Sudan playing a major role, we put on the highly successful Darfur International Conference on Water for Sustainable Peace in June. In 2012, we will turn increasingly to supporting more of these activities for early recovery and development in close coordination with the UN Country Team, to further the chances for lasting stability in Darfur.
During the past year, UNAMID increased its presence throughout Darfur, nearly doubling our daily patrols. In addition, the continued efforts by the governments of Sudan and Chad to secure their common border have decreased tensions and violence. Violence has cooled in several parts of Darfur. Unfortunately, we also lost seven peacekeepers in this effort to restore security. As you well know, fighting continues in some places, most dramatically with the recent clashes in North Darfur which spilled over into North Kordofan where JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim was killed on 24 December. Our ability to monitor and respond has also been restricted in the past few days due to the heightened insecurity in parts of North and South Darfur.
I deeply regret this violence and the lives lost. I would like to state with my utmost conviction that the parties must honour their stated commitments to a political solution to the Darfur conflict. They owe the people of Darfur a better future.
I commend the Government and LJM for their moves towards peace made in 2011. And I continue to call upon all the non-signatory movements to re-commit themselves in the coming year to the peace process and to making permanent peace a reality. In this respect, all parties will continue to find in UNAMID an unwavering partner.
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