[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek/UNAMID]
As the joint African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) marked its first anniversary at the close of 2008, the Mission also paid tribute to yet another colleague killed as a result of an unwarranted attack. [UNAMID Mission Page from Mission Headquarters]
The peacekeeper died in a Khartoum hospital from injuries sustained when he was shot during a hijacking incident involving unknown armed men in the town of El Fasher in the early evening of 27 December 2008.
His stolen vehicle has since been recovered by the Sudanese police but the attackers were yet to be located, according to a UNAMID statement issued on 29 December.
“UNAMID, while appreciative of the efforts of the Sudanese police in combating such crimes, deplores this act of criminal violence which poses a threat to both the safety and security of UNAMID personnel and to the well-being of the Sudanese people whose suffering we are here to alleviate,” said the statement.
The thirty-first of December marked a year since the transfer of responsibility from the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) to UNAMID. Former AMIS soldiers, police officers, together with their civilian colleagues serving in UNAMID, have worked tirelessly under difficult and often dangerous circumstances to sustain a presence throughout Darfur.
Another statement, issued 31 December 2008 said: “While an all-inclusive peace agreement has yet to be achieved, UNAMID’s dedicated work has facilitated humanitarian relief, local conflict resolution, and security so as to establish and strengthen conditions that can enable the people of Sudan to resolve this tragic conflict.”
Deputy Joint Special Representative Henry Anyidoho, speaking on behalf of the AU-UN Joint Special Representative Rodolphe Adada, reaffirmed UNAMID’s commitment to its mandate and the determination of its soldiers, police officers, and civilian members to build on this initial achievement.
The Mission said it will continue to deploy its new contingents to achieve full authorized strength in the months ahead.
The United Nations announced in December that 12,374 military personnel have been deployed to UNAMID, representing 63 percent of the Mission’s authorized military strength of 19,555 personnel.
The Secretary-General applauded the efforts of UNAMID and troop-contributing countries “in reaching this target in the face of serious difficulties, including the volatile security situation in Darfur,” said a statement attributed to the SG’s spokesperson. [Full text]
On Wednesday, 7 January, the Secretary-General welcomed the most recent commitment by the United States to airlift to Darfur critical equipment required by UNAMID. “The expedited arrival to Darfur of this material, which includes trucks and other essential equipment, will strengthen the ability of the United Nations to protect civilians and carry out other aspects of its mandate,” said a statement from the Spokesperson's Office in New York.
This initiative sets a constructive precedent for broad international support to expeditiously deploy UNAMID, the Secretary-General said, and called on other Member States “to seriously consider undertaking similar efforts to expedite the full deployment of UNAMID.”
UNAMID remains one of the United Nations’ most difficult peacekeeping missions. However, the resilience of its peacekeepers in the face of numerous attacks is, perhaps, the only hope that the millions of civilian population affected by the conflict could count on.