UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Tuesday that he is to visit Darfur next week with a three-part strategy for that region.
Ban told reporters at a press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York that he will travel next week to Sudan, Chad and Libya, ahead of the deployment of some 26,000 UN-African Union forces as agreed by the UN Security Council last month, with purpose of seeing for himself "the very difficult conditions" under which the largest-ever UN peacekeeping operation will be carried out.
He stressed that he wanted to know first-hand the plight that Darfurians are experiencing and to also try to strengthen momentum towards a lasting political resolution so that the violence and suffering can end.
"I want to create the foundations of a lasting peace and security," the UN chief said. "My goal is to lock in the progress we have made so far."
Meanwhile, Ban outlined a three-part strategy to deal with the Darfur crisis by ensuring that peacekeepers are deployed quickly and effectively, humanitarian aid and development is more easily available and the peace process pushes forward.
Detailing his three-part strategy for Darfur, the secretary-general said that the deployment of the new hybrid force, which is to be known as UNAMID, will require a massive logistical effort, especially in providing adequate communications, water, food, supplies and infrastructure for the mission.
"This is one of the largest and most complex field operations the United Nations has ever undertaken, together with the African Union, and the work is well under way. But it cannot succeed without the cooperation of the government of Sudan," Ban said, adding he would seek its full support when he meets with President Omar al-Bashir in the capital, Khartoum, during the trip.
However, he pointed out that "peacekeeping, alone, is not enough. It must be accompanied by a political solution."
Ban further explained that his aim during the trip was to maintain the recent momentum among the parties for talks "with a view toward issuing invitations to a full-fledged peace conference by the end of summer."
The Secretary-General added that no political solution would work in the long run unless the region on Sudan's western flank enjoys sustained economic development.
"There must be money for new roads and communications, as well as health, education, sanitation and social reconstruction programs," he claimed, issuing the call to the international community to help the Sudanese government to organize these efforts.
Aside from Sudan, Ban is visiting Libya, where he said its leader Muammar Gaddafi has been a key regional player in trying to bring some of the Darfur parties to the negotiations table.
He will afterwards travel to Chad, where the Security Council indicated Monday it was willing to authorize a multidimensional UN presence to support a European Union force in the east of the country and in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The UN chief also announced that an international meeting on Darfur, a follow-up to the Paris meeting in June, will be convened on Sep. 21 in New York. The meeting is to be hosted by the United Nations and the African Union, he added.
(Xinhua News Agency August 29, 2007)