Special Envoy of the African Union (AU) to Darfur Salem Ahmed
Salem Sunday expressed his concern over the size and equipment of a
UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping operation in the conflict-torn western
Sudanese region of Darfur.
In a press statement issued upon his arrival in Khartoum, Salem
said that although the hybrid operation, which is well-known as the
UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), was launched, the number of its
troops did not reach the size which the UN and AU had planned.
"Although UNAMID was launched, it is not completely in place,"
he said, adding that many countries in Africa and elsewhere were
ready to provide troops to join the hybrid peacekeeping force.
Turning to the equipment of the UNAMID, Salem said one of the
demands and requirements was to try and get transportation
There was still discussions about the possibility of getting
helicopters "with all the good will that has been expressed and
demonstrated by the international community," the AU envoy
Analysts believe that helicopters are essential for the hybrid
force to carry out its mission in the region of France's scale.
The UN and AU have noted that critical gaps still remained in
the hybrid force as no pledges had been received so far for ground
and transportation units and aviation assets.
The UN-AU hybrid force took over on Dec. 31, 2007 the
peacekeeping authorities in Darfur from the underfunded AU
peacekeeping force which had been deployed there in 2004 to monitor
a fragile ceasefire between the conflicting parties.
On July 31, 2007, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution
1769, authorizing the deployment the hybrid force including some
20,000 troops and more than 6,000 police and civilian staff.
Until now, there are only some 9,000 uniformed personnel on the
ground, including 7,000 troops and 1,200 police who had been
serving with the AU force.
(Xinhua News Agency January 14, 2008)