The signing of the Darfur peace accord in Abuja , Nigeria in May has finally created a real chance for the people of Darfur to witness the horrors they have suffered from in the last three years to come to an end.
Our brothers in Darfur, who have survived the war, did so with the help of a huge humanitarian effort undertaken by several countries, the United Nations and regional organizations, in conjunction with non-governmental organizations, as well as the exceptional efforts of African Union (AU) troops. Survivors continue to suffer from the barbaric attacks of plundering militias. Men, women and children, young and old alike, are forced to leave their homes and their livelihoods looted.
In collaboration with the United Nations, the European Union and other international and regional powers, the Arab League participated in AU sponsored negotiations. In order for all of us to seize the chance to end the tragedy of Darfur, all parties and the international community are required to act decisively and collectively.
First of all, rebel leaders who have yet to sign the accord, which the international community supported, should do so. The time has come for them to set past differences aside and seek to strengthen the pillars of peace and bring about a flourishing future for their people in Darfur and Sudan . The Abuja accord opened the door for real political activism and blocked the way to more bloodshed.
But, more importantly, the main terms of the accord need to be implemented effectively in order to transform the promises made in Abuja into reality. On the practical side, this requires reinforcing the AU delegation currently in Darfur. A proposal to expand this mission so that is becomes part of UN peacekeeping effort is currently being discussed. It requires prior consultation with the Sudanese government to determine its mandate and conditions.
Undoubtedly, the positive atmosphere following the Abuja accord will contribute to resolving the Sudanese reservations and fears on the UN mission’s role. The quicker we do this, the better we will be at maintaining peace in Darfur. The latest talks between Lakhdar Ibrahimi and top Sudanese officials on this issue were a step in the right direction, as they paved the way for the joint technical assessment mission, established according to UN resolution 1679, to begin its work.
This is why consultation between the Sudanese government and the UN remains the only way to foster a climate of trust and assure the government Sudan’s sovereignty will be safeguarded.
If we remain on course, the joint mission will work alongside the Sudanese government and the people of Darfur to protect civilians, assist refugees and the displaced to return to their homes and rebuild their lives. It will also strengthen human rights and create a positive atmosphere to enable national reconciliation to take place, as part of a Darfur conference, which the Arab League will take part in. The joint mission will also work alongside governments and aid agencies to ensure the people of Darfur receive what the shelter and food they need. It is envisaged that the joint mission will be mobile and capable of dealing with the forces opposed to peace.
In the meantime, it is crucial for the AU mission in Sudan to receive all the funds and resources it requires in order to implement the accord. Arab leaders in their March summit in Khartoum confirmed this. The international community should also see the Abuja accord as a first step, and put words into action, especially with regards to development efforts and achieving national unity and stability.
I call on Arabs and Muslims outside Sudan to back the Abuja accord and support all efforts to strengthen it, in order to protect their brothers in Darfur and across Sudan .
We are currently living through critical times in Sudan , whether in the south or in Darfur . An opportunity such as is very rare. We all have a responsibility to move swiftly to seize the chance to achieve peace on Sudan and not let it slip away.