KIGALI - The Commander of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid operations in Darfur (UNAMID), Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, has said that the mission has registered tremendous progress.
Gen. Nyamvumba made the remarks Thursday in an exclusive interview with The New Times. He revealed that UNAMID’s biggest component, the military component, now stands at more than 17,200 troops and is growing.
“We expect by the end of the year to be probably at 18,000 if one additional infantry battalion from Senegal deploys, and probably by end of next year, we will have all the mandated infantry battalions on the ground which will give us, of course, enhanced capacity and capability,” he said.
He outlined that UNAMID now stands at 88 percent in terms of troop strength, adding that currently the peacekeepers are able to send out over 80 military and police patrols.
“That gives us a bigger footprint on the ground. Then we get to know the issues affecting the people and that’s positive in a sense that as UNAMID, we are the ones on the ground and know what is happening”.
Nonetheless, the General acknowledged that some challenges; including tribal clashes, and lack of a peace agreement and resources like helicopters, remain.
“We consulted widely about helicopters and it seems we have to come to terms with the fact that we may never get them when we need them. So as I said earlier, we have to operate with what we have,” Nyamvumba pointed out.
He also noted that even though the upcoming referendum is not a UNAMID issue but mainly a concern of the sister mission – the United Nations Missions in Sudan (UNMIS), they too are keenly watching developments.
“The referendum is not a UNAMID business but we have to be prepared to address the results of the referendum. We are monitoring what is happening at the moment, both the events preceding the referendum and after the referendum, with keen interest”.
The General also stressed that the people of the troubled region of Darfur “really want peace”, and noted that the Rwandan peacekeeping contingents in Darfur are committed and dedicated “to do what they came to do” adding that they have what it takes and their morale is high.