27 May 2005

Secretary-General Urges Support for Expansion of African Union’s Mission in Darfur, at Addis Ababa Pledging Conference 

NEW YORK, 26 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s statement to the pledging conference co-chaired by the African Union and the United Nations in support of the African Union Mission in Sudan, in Addis Ababa, 26 May:


I am honoured to be here today to co-chair this highly important event.


It is always an inspiration for me to be among African Union colleagues here in Addis Ababa; to meet with Chairperson Konaré, whose leadership and dedication we have all come to admire; to meet with other African leaders; and to address the challenges and crises facing this continent.


Today we are here -- African Union member States and the many partners of the AU -- to address one of the most pressing and destructive of those crises:  the conflict in Darfur.


By now, we are all familiar with the bleak facts and figures provided on Darfur by the humanitarian community.  More than 2 million people have been forced to flee from their homes.  More than 3 million will need relief to get through the next few months.  We are still $350 million short of what we require to provide that relief.


And we are running a race against time.  Indeed, it is a race against time.  The rainy season and the “hunger gap” are approaching fast, making our relief operations more difficult, just as they need to expand even further.  If violence and fear prevent the people of Darfur from planting and growing crops next year, then millions will have to be sustained by an epic relief effort which will stretch international capacity to the maximum.


As we consider the terrible humanitarian situation, let us also be aware of the wider international implications of the conflict.  More than 20 years of civil war ended in Sudan on 9 January 2005, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  If stability is not achieved in Darfur, then the promise of Naivasha -- the promise of a just and democratic country able to realize its full potential -- will be in serious jeopardy.


Ultimately, it is the supreme obligation of the parties to end the conflict in Darfur.  It is the responsibility of the Government, leaders and people of Sudan to ensure that viable and enduring peace is achieved.  It is our responsibility, we the international community, to do everything possible to help them.


In that task, the Abuja peace process is indispensable.  But it can succeed only if we focus our collective diplomatic, political and other support on the crucial mediation effort of the African Union.  The parties must know that the world is united behind the need for a negotiated settlement.  They must know and see that the international community is of one mind in responding to the violence in Darfur.  Our response to the crisis has been based on a partnership throughout.


Above all, we have unequivocally supported the courageous leadership of the African Union as it shoulders the enormous burden of seeking peace in Darfur.  The Security Council has been firmly behind it since passing the first resolution to deal with the crisis in July 2004.  The donors, in addition to supporting humanitarian assistance, have provided substantial cash and equipment for the current AU Mission to deploy and operate.  And the United Nations has assisted with planning and training of its personnel.


My Special Representative, Jan Pronk, and the AU Commission Chairperson’s Representative in Sudan, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, work with a singularity of purpose.  And the Chairperson and I have been in close and regular contact throughout the crisis.


With this support from its partners -- financial, material and political -- the AU has established a peacekeeping operation and a mediation process which holds our hopes for stability and peace in Darfur.  Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to the AU Member States that have contributed troops and police to the Mission:  Nigeria, Rwanda, Gambia, Senegal, South Africa, to name but the biggest contributors.  There are many more.  You have all answered the call and demonstrated your commitment.


Today’s conference is further evidence of the international partnership that has brought us this far.  The expansion of AMIS is based on an assessment of needs which was led by the AU, and included the full participation of many of the countries and organizations represented here today.  As the Chairperson has explained, the expanded Mission will include a total of more than 6,000 military personnel and 1,500 police and will cost over $465 million for one year.


We are about to take the next, crucial step -- ensuring that the expanded AMIS have what they need to do their work.  The men and women who make up the Mission need our support to do their work well.


Although the violence in Darfur has stabilized over the last few months, the situation remains unacceptable.  Civilians are still at risk and subject to attacks.  Moreover, the violence is increasingly targeted at aid workers, hampering their difficult work.


Where AMIS is deployed, these things do not happen.  The expanded AMIS, at full operational capacity, will go a long way to ensuring that the great majority of civilians in Darfur can be protected from violence.


I am confident that you will provide the support required for the effective expansion of the Mission.  Some among you have already made impressive pledges in general terms.  We look forward to hearing details of how they will be translated into concrete action.


Significant work has already taken place.  We must accelerate this process further today, and coordinate closely to track requirements and remove bottlenecks.


To do this, we must build on the existing infrastructure which AMIS and its partners have built in Darfur.  In this way, we can ensure a smooth expansion, and enable the troops to be effective as soon as they arrive.  I appeal to all of you to provide the resources required without delay.


For our part, the United Nations is prepared to do everything possible to support the AU and your efforts as partners.


Let us be clear, however:  an enhanced AMIS is necessary to improve stability; but not sufficient to achieve peace.  This can come only through a negotiated settlement.


I am encouraged that the parties are preparing to return to the Abuja talks at the end of this month, or beginning of June, which will be graciously hosted by President Obasanjo.  They must apply themselves fully and we must remind them, relentlessly, that the AU-led Abuja process is the only game in town.


We should also set high expectations for the role that the future Government of National Unity can play in negotiations.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was the result of their combined efforts.  That agreement should be the basis for a definitive settlement in Darfur.


Tomorrow, I will go to Sudan.  I will meet with President Bashir and Vice-President Taha in Khartoum, and with Chairman Garang in Rumbek.  I will also travel to Darfur, where I will see at first hand the good work of the AU force.  I will also, of course, meet with the women and men of Darfur who have been the victims of this tragedy.


My discussions with these different groups will vary, but one message will be repeated to all:  the African Union and the international community will work together with the Government and leaders of Sudan to build peace in Darfur and help refugees and displaced persons return home and rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.


* *** *