Following the UN Security Council's decision to extend the mandate of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), El Fateh Osman, Oxfam’s country director in Sudan said:
“Oxfam is glad to see UNAMID’s continued presence in the country, but what is most needed is genuine and sustainable peace in Darfur.
“While UNAMID patrols and presence have helped protect civilians in some areas, there are still far too many areas where they are vulnerable, especially outside the largest camps and towns. People still need much greater protection from violence: in recent months there has been an increase in fighting between factions, and direct attacks against peacekeepers.
“The ongoing fighting not only affects civilians directly, but it is also hindering aid groups from accessing people who need assistance. In the war-torn Eastern Jebel Marra area, humanitarian workers have extremely limited access. UNAMID must provide area security for civilian populations and also enable aid organizations to safely provide their services.”
Oxfam stressed that UNAMID should remain in Darfur in a strictly protective capacity given the dynamic nature of the security situation. The international agency noted that it is premature for the peacekeepers to directly participate in humanitarian or early recovery activities.
“Mixing the work of blue helmets with aid groups will confuse Darfuris,” said Osman. “This could make the situation for aid groups more challenging by blurring the lines between military and humanitarian groups, and it could affect the services that people receive. UNAMID is needed to protect people, and aid groups are needed to provide for basic needs. We each have an important role to play.”
“Ultimately, Darfur needs an inclusive Sudanese-led peace process to allow rebuilding and development. UNAMID can continue to play an important role working with all groups to ensure peace and stability,” said Osman.