DIPLOMATS from the UN Security Council head to Sudan’s western Darfur region on Thursday where they hope to see up close the effects one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
On the fifth day of a 10-day tour of African hotspots, the 15-nation council will fly from Khartoum to El Fasher, the capital of
North Darfur state, where the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is based.
The delegations will meet with the wali, or governor, of North Darfur, visit a camp for internally displaced persons and stop by UNAMID headquarters. They will then meet with humanitarian aid workers before returning to Khartoum for evening talks with Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Experts estimate some 200 000 have died and 2,5 million have been forced from their homes in five years of ethnic and political conflict in Darfur. Khartoum says only 10 000 people have been killed.
Bashir has been under pressure to all a quicker deployment of UNAMID, which is to reach 26 000 troops and police at full strength. There are only around 9 000 UNAMID peacekeepers on the ground in Darfur, a region roughly the size of France.
While deployment has been slow, Khartoum confirmed on Wednesday that Thai and Nepalese battalions could deploy in Darfur once Egyptian and Ethiopian troops had deployed.
“There has been an improvement in the atmosphere for cooperation between the UN and the African Union on one side and the Sudanese government on the other,” British Ambassador to the United Nations John Sawers told reporters.
“We need to take that forward so an effective force can build up in Darfur. We’ll see tomorrow and be able to get a first-hand sense of how that process is going,” he said about the council’s trip to El Fasher. ——Reuters.