US concerned about UNAMID deaths, envoy

The US Senior Adviser on Darfur, Ambassador Dane Smith, Tuesday said the death toll among peacekeepers of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), is alarming, but added that the mission was looking into how best to support the troops.
Defence Minister Gen. James Kabarebe (L) and US Senior Adviser on Darfur, Ambassador Dane Smith after their meeting yesterday. The New Times / John Mbanda.
Defence Minister Gen. James Kabarebe (L) and US Senior Adviser on Darfur, Ambassador Dane Smith after their meeting yesterday. The New Times / John Mbanda.

The US Senior Adviser on Darfur, Ambassador Dane Smith, Tuesday said the death toll among peacekeepers of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), is alarming, but added that the mission was looking into how best to support the troops.

Ambassador Smith who was on his second visit to Kigali yesterday, held discussions with Defence Minister, Gen. James Kabarebe.

“I was continuing my discussions with the Minister of Defence on how we can best support UNAMID in its duties. We are particularly concerned about the death toll among the peacekeepers, including Rwandans, who’ve been killed in service to the world in Darfur,” Ambassador Smith told reporters shortly after meeting with the minister.

Last week, unknown gunmen killed a Nigerian peacekeeper and wounded another during an ambush on a patrol in East Darfur.

The African Union (AU) and the UN Security Council Monday condemned the ambush.

Rwanda has over 3,000 troops in UNAMID with the Force Commander – Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, also a Rwandan.

Smith said: “We continue to be grateful to the government of Rwanda for the contribution in Darfur – their troops and the Force Commander, and we’ll continue to work on cooperation with the government of Rwanda in meeting responsibilities in Darfur and hopefully moving forward with a peaceful settlement as has been reached in the Doha agreement”.

Last April, Smith jetted into Kigali, where he met Rwandan government officials to thank them for their support to the UNAMID and discussed peacekeeping issues in Darfur.

At the time, he thereafter travelled to Doha, Qatar, to encourage the Sudanese government and Darfur armed movements to make progress on political talks aimed at reaching a ceasefire and negotiated settlement to the conflict.

james.karuhanga@newtimes.co.rw

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