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AU-Led Assessment Team Concludes its Tour in Darfur
The African Union–led Assessment Team which arrived at Force Headquarters on 10th December 2005, has concluded its business after visiting all the eight AMIS Sectors across Darfur. The Team, which was led by Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, included representatives of troop contributing countries from Gambia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal as well as members of the Darfur Integrated Task Force (DITF ) from the AU HQ in Addis Ababa. AU partners, notably Canada, the EU, Norway, the UN and the US also participated in the Assessment Mission. In accordance with its terms of reference, the Assessment Mission undertook an in-depth and critical review of the operations of AMIS, assessed the implementation of the recommendations of the previous Assessment Mission (10th to 20th March 2005) and evaluated the prevailing security situation in Darfur.
The Delegation was briefed in all the Sectors located at El Fasher, Nyala, El Geneina, Kabkabiya, Tine, Zalingei, El Daien and Kutum as well as in some Group Sites. The briefings were largely focused on matters of security, military and police aspects, administration, communications, logistics and the general situation on the ground across the mission area. Constraints, challenges and problems facing AU troops and CIVPOL were discussed and analysed in order to enhance the future performance of AMIS. The Team was also briefed by OCHA and PAE.
The presence of AMIS has contributed to reducing the number of cease-fire violations and afforded some level of protection for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the “firewood patrols” and field sorties of AMIS have enabled IDPs to cultivate and harvest in certain areas of Darfur, and this, together with a sustained humanitarian effort by the international community, has considerably reduced malnutrition and mortality rates in Darfur. Several AMIS commanders have also engaged in local reconciliation efforts (“military diplomacy”), thus contributing to reduce tensions and to prevent many incidents. The deployment of the CIVPOL component of AMIS, which has started 24-hour operations in some locations, has also helped to improve significantly the security in the IDP camps and their immediate vicinity.
The Team noted, however, that the prevailing security situation does not allow for the return of IDPs and refugees in any significant numbers. Banditry, harassment of civilians, as well as tensions and skirmishes between ethnic communities are rife throughout Darfur and remain an unresolved security challenge.
The Team paid tribute to the fallen Nigerian soldiers who were the victims of a tragic unprovoked bandit attack last October in the Khor Abeche area in South Darfur. The team also expressed its sympathy with the Senegalese soldiers injured near the Chadian border in the course of an ambush by rogue elements of a splinter group of one of the rebel movements.
The Delegation noted that AMIS personnel, whose total strength as at 13th December, 2005, stood at 6,932 (5,623 military personnel and 1,309 CIVPOL), were conducting their tasks with increasing effectiveness and great commitment.
The findings of the Assessment Mission will form the basis of recommendations the AU Commission will make to the AU Peace and Security Council early in January 2006 on how to further enhance the effectiveness of the AU forces in Darfur and to provide pointers to the way forward.
15th December, 2005, El Fasher, Darfur
Justin Thundu, Senior Public Affairs and Information Officer