Vanguard of large UN peacekeeping force arrives in southern Sudan

Pre-deployment training has also begun in Nairobi, Kenya, for 40 UN senior staff officers and military observers, covering all aspects of living and working in Sudan, including cultural sensitization, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) announced today.The Security Council voted unanimously last month to send 10,000 troops and more than 700 civilian police to southern Sudan for an initial period of six months to support January’s peace accord ending more than two decades of conflict between the Government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).The peacekeepers of UNMIS, as part of a considerable mandate, will monitor and verify the ceasefire agreement, help set up a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme for ex-combatants, and promote national reconciliation and human rights.The war killed 2 million people, drove more than 4.6 million others from their homes and left the region in ruins, posing enormous challenges to UN agencies across the whole humanitarian spectrum as they draw up plans for relief and recovery, ranging from health care, food and refugee repatriation to census taking and mine clearance.A two-day donors’ conference earlier this month pledged $4.5 billion for 2005-2007, nearly $2 billion more than Secretary-General Kofi Annan identified as needed to resurrect the ravaged region over the next two and a half years. Mr. Annan has put the cost of the peacekeeping mission at more than $1 billion for the first year alone.The UN military deployment plan has been finalized and UNMIS and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations are working on the construction of sector sites. The approaching rainy season will affect the deployment of troops to outlying areas.Meanwhile in Sudan’s other, still raging conflict in Darfur, Mr. Annan’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, will go tomorrow to Addis Ababa in neighbouring Ethiopia for discussions on expanding African Union (AU) operations.The AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) at present numbers 2,260 out of a mandated total of 3,160, but UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland has said at least 10,000 are needed to stabilize the vast region, the size of France, where more than 2 million people have been uprooted by a conflict between rebels and the Government and armed militias. read more

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