United Nations officials gave on Tuesday a grim picture of international efforts to end the ethnic conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, with peacekeepers overwhelmed by enormous difficulties while the civilian population continues to suffer from lawlessness and impunity. ( dpa )
Since January's deployment of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping operation in Darfur, known as UNAMID, the force is still lacking operational capabilities, attack helicopters, military engineers and logistical support, said Rodolphe Adada, the UNAMID representative told the UN Security Council in a review session.
Only 40 per cent of the authorized 20,000 military personnel had been deployed and it would take at least another year to complete the military deployment. Once UNAMID is fully deployed with civilian and police components, the force will be the UN's largest peacekeeping operation in the world at more than 30,000 personnel.
Adada said UN-AU forces are serving under "exceptionally difficult conditions, facing daily dangers and hardships."
He said the difficulties will not go away in the coming three months because of the coming rainy season, which will make roads impassable, and the rotation of four Nigerian battalions and one South African battalion, which would put UNAMID under considerable pressure while fresh troops were being sent in.
The long line of traffic from Port Sudan at the Red Sea to Darfur under rainy and difficult road conditions will add to problems of local contractors to bring in supplies for UN-AU troops. But Adada said China has promised to send an engineering company, Egypt will send an infantry battalion and Bangladesh a logistic company.
Adada said Darfurians have become frustrated and disappointed by the peace process and agreements reached by Khartoum and some rebel groups.
"Unfortunately, it is commonly understood today in Darfur that peace is not at all attractive, neither economically and politically," Adada said.
"The challenge facing UNAMID is formidable in all aspects," he said.
An estimated 300,000 people have been killed in past years of ethnic cleansing - called genocide by the United States and some other countries - and another 2 million people have been internally displaced or pushed to flee to Chad for their safety.