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UNAMID, JEM to establish joint mechanism to protect Darfur civilians

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February 5, 2009 (NDJAMENA) – The head of the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID held talks in the Chadian capital with the chairman of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on ways to enhance joint cooperation to protect civilians in Darfur.

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The head of UNAMID, Rodolphe Adada, (L) speaks during a meeting with the leader of the rebel JEM Khalil Ibrahim (R) held in the Chadian capital Ndjamena on Feb 5, 2009 (photo provided by the UNAMID)

UNAMID’s Rodolphe Adada, was in the Chadian capital in a two day visit for talks with JEM’s Khalil Ibrahim. Adada had decided to meet the rebel leader after eruption of hostilities since mid January between JEM and the Sudanese government, in southern and northern Darfur.

"The hybrid mission and JEM agreed to create a joint mechanism allowing them to cooperate together to protect the civilians and the IDPs in Darfur and to enhance the humanitarian situation there," the spokesman of the rebel movement, Ahmed Hussein Adam told Sudan Tribune.

He added that an ad hoc committee from the two sides is working out an understanding allowing them to cooperate together despite the lack of ceasefire agreement.

Adada delegation included UNAMID Deputy Force Commander General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake, UNAMID spokesperson Noureddine Mezni, and political, humanitarian and security Mission officials while Khalil Ibrahim was accompanied by Jibril Ibrahim, Economic Advisor; Ahmed Hussein Adam, JEM Spokesperson; Bushara Suleiman, Secretary of Foreign Affairs; and Ezzedin Youssif Baggi, Secretary of Financial Affairs.

"The meeting was called as part of UNAMID’s continued efforts to establish a good working relationship with all parties involved in the Darfur conflict," said Mezni in a press statement released today evening.

Adada reiterated that UNAMID is absolutely neutral in dealing with all parties involved in the conflict, as this neutrality is the only way for the Mission to achieve its mandate, he added.

Also UNAMID spokesperson confirmed that both parties agreed to the necessity of a mechanism for better coordination on the ground. Adam told Sudan Tribune that the cooperation includes combating banditry, carjacking, protection of humanitarian convoys.

Sudanese army earlier this week asked the hybrid peacekeeping mission to withdraw a 196-strong force from Muhageriya ahead of the planned assault. But the UNAMID insisted to stay in the town to protect civilians who had take shelter around its base.

During the meeting JEM praised UNAMID commitment to protect civilians as it is defined in its mandate. The rebel group cited "the Mission’s refusal to evacuate Muhageriya in order to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population."

According to the spokesperson of the peacekeeping mission, Khalil Ibrahim agreed with the necessity of avoiding situations similar to that of Muhageriya in the future.

The rebel leader further added he decided to withdraw from the flashpoint town due to UNAMID’s decision to remain there and appeals by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping and the United Sates.

UN humanitarian chief in Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said today that at least 30,000 people have fled their homes recently in South Darfur while government forces attempted to re-take Muhageriya.

UN experts say 300,000 have died and 2.7 million been driven from their homes since rebels took up arms against Sudan’s government in 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglecting the region’s development. But Khartoum says 10,000 have died.

(ST)

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