AU takes a small step forward on Darfur, negotiations on UN assistance must continue

(NEW YORK, September 25, 2006) – In a statement issued in New York today, the Darfur Consortium welcomed the decisions of the African Union (AU) to extend the mandate of the African Union mission in Sudan (AMIS) to the end of the year and of the UN Security Council to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), now deployed in the south of the country, by two weeks.

Alioune Tine, a founding member of the Consortium and President of Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), who was in New York to monitor progress of the deliberations, cautioned, however, that these decisions constituted only a brief reprieve and that much more remained to be done. “Darfurians will be relieved that the African forces on the ground are remaining to do what they can,” said Mr. Tine “but it is clear that in their current configuration they simply cannot effectively protect.”

“While it is encouraging to hear that the Arab League has pledged funding and that the UN will offer support, international donors must also increase their assistance. On the part of the AU, the extension of the AMIS mandate must now be accompanied by an increase in troop numbers and the adoption of a new concept of operations. AMIS must be equipped to at least attempt to fulfill its responsibilities under the Darfur Peace Agreement.”

Planning for the transformation to a UN force must also continue. “African states have already recognized that a United Nations force is the only way to effectively protect civilians in Darfur,” said Mr. Tine.

“The decision at this Friday’s Security Council meeting to agree only a short term technical mandate extension to UNMIS is an indication that the members of the Security Council are seeking to keep the transformation to a UN force high on the international agenda. African states need to reassert their role in these discussions and push strongly for the UN transition they have been seeking since March of this year.”

The Darfur Consortium represents over forty Africa-based and Africa-focused civil society organisations working together to promote a just, peaceful and sustainable end to the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.