The protection of blue helmets serving in Darfur has topped the agenda of the latest talks between the United Nations, the African Union and the Sudanese Government, which are taking place just days after two peacekeepers were killed and three others seriously wounded in an ambush in the war-torn region.
The meeting of the so-called Tripartite Mechanism, held today in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, also focused on the continued implementation of the mandate of the joint UN-AU peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID.
The mission was established by the Security Council in 2007 to protect civilians in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million forced from their homes since violence erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and their allied Janjaweed militiamen.
On Friday, two Egyptian soldiers serving with UNAMID died after their convoy, carrying out a routine patrol, was attacked by about 20 unidentified armed gunmen who opened fire without warning in a remote area of South Darfur state. Their deaths bring the number of UNAMID personnel killed as a result of hostile actions to 24 since the mission was established.
At present, UNAMID is at 87 per cent of its full strength of some 26,000 military and police personnel.
In his latest report to the Security Council on UNAMID, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that even though the mission is moving towards full capacity, it continues to lack crucial equipment required to enhance the capability of both its military and police units.
“I am encouraged by the progress that UNAMID has made towards full deployment in Darfur. At the same time, continuing shortfalls in terms of the self-sustainment of military and formed police units remain a challenge to the operational capability of the mission,” Mr. Ban wrote.
He thanked troop- and police-contributing countries, urging them to ensure that the necessary arrangements are made for the deployment of the equipment and other facilities. Helicopters and military vehicles such as armoured personnel carriers continue to be in short supply.
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy, along with officials from UNAMID, including Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari, are attending the Addis Ababa meeting, which is also slated to discuss the provision of a radio broadcasting license for the mission.