UNAMID’s (the United Nations -African Union Mission in Darfur) Force Commander, Lt Gen Patrick Nyamvumba, has said that the mission still requires 18 utility helicopters to provide the air mobility and operational flexibility it needs.
He made this call on Thursday when UNAMID was celebrating the deployment of five Mi-35P tactical helicopters that arrived in Darfur from Ethiopia, challenged other countries to follow suit.
At the ceremony, the UNAMID Joint Special Representative (JSR), Ibrahim Gambari, expressed deep appreciation to Ethiopia for its commitment, support and contributions towards enhancing peace and stability in Darfur.
“I hereby pledge that we will do our utmost to make optimum use of the helicopters in the discharge of our core mandate, which is the protection of the civilian population and the support for the creation of a safe and secure environment,” he said.
Addressing representatives from the governments of Ethiopia, Sudan, and the Senior UNAMID officials Gambari added that the helicopters would deter those who might threaten peace and stability in Darfur.
He further reiterated his thanks to both Ethiopia and the Sudan for the cooperation and coordination which led to the smooth deployment and the entry into service of the aircraft in Darfur.
The long-awaited tactical Mi-35P helicopters aim at enhancing the Mission’s ability to protect the civilian population and will also enable a swift and effective response to any developing emergency on the ground. UNAMID will now be able to reach many areas which had previously been inaccessible.
Ambassador Konjit Sinegiorgis, Permanent Envoy of Ethiopia to the African Union Commission pledged her Government’s assurance of its readiness to work with all parties engaged in the search for a lasting solution to the Darfur conflict.
Stating that the decision of her government to put these helicopters at the disposal of the AU-UN Mission was “a reflection of the importance that Ethiopia attaches to the establishment and the consolidation of peace in Sudan.”
Representing the Government of the Sudan was Ambassador Mohammed Abdullah Idriss, Director of Peace and Humanitarian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
He hailed JSR for UNAMID’s contributions to the negotiations which led to the recent signing of the Darfur Framework Agreement.
“UNAMID has become the mission of the people. The arrival of the helicopters was assurance of its “commitment to cooperate with the Mission to implement its mandate.”
Ethiopia is one of the Mission’s top contribution countries, providing over 2,500 peacekeepers to Darfur, including two battalions.