Senior UN officials warned today that the Darfur joint peacekeeping operation between the United Nations and the African Union is facing significant shortfalls, including important ground transport and aviation capacities. According to a press release from the United Nations News Service, the lack of resources severely impacts the ability of the operation to carry out its basic mission.
The first deployment of essential personnel is scheduled before January, and according to UN Assistant Assistant Secretary-General Jane Holl Lute the deployment is still on schedule. Holl Lute said that the important leadership positions in the operation had been filled, but that a few positions remain open. Deployment is scheduled to be coordinated from the Sudenese capital of Khartoum. Over 19,000 troops will be deployed from the base when the operation is at full capacity.
According to Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Affairs Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the joint operation, known as UNAMID, still lacks both ground and air transportation, as well as light tactical helicopters. Guehenno expressed concern about the viability of the mission without transportation. “These capacities are vital… If we don’t have the force enablers, I am concerned,” he said.
Guehenno also noted that the recent attacks on African Union peacekeepers in southern Darfur emphasized the need for troops that were highly mobile. He called on European countries to match the commitments that they have made to similar operations in Chad and the Central African Republic.”Otherwise it would be very dangerous if what is the most challenging situation – the situation in Darfur – did not have the right resources. That would put in jeopardy all our efforts to stabilize this region where there has been much too much suffering,” Guehenno said.
An estimated 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur since the fighting broke out between rebels and government forces in 2003, with another 2.2 million people being forced from their homes. The already dire situation has worsened in recent weeks, especially in the southern region of Darfur.
African countries that have volunteered troops, reconnaissance or transport include Kenya, Egypt, Gambia, Senegal and Nigeria. The goal is to have the joint operation have a heavy African presence.
Aid from outside of Africa is coming from the Netherlands, Thailands, Nepa and Bagladesh, with countries also providing troops and a field hospital.
Sudan has promised UNAMID that Darfur’s airstrips will be available for use, but there is no agreement for the needed land to deploy such heavy support.
Source: UN Press Release