Washington: Terming the recent escalation of violence in Darfur as “simply unacceptable”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has outlined an ambitious three-point plan to end the conflict in Sudan starting with the deployment of a massive peacekeeping operation, as he announced a visit to the strife-torn region.
But Ban warned his six-day peace mission to Darfur would be worthless without the cooperation of the Sudanese government, saying the conflict which has killed over 2 lakh people and displaced another 2.5 million cannot be resolved by peacekeeping alone, but requires a political solution.
Besides Sudan, the secretary general will also be visiting neighbours Chad and Libya.
Outlining his three-point plan for Darfur, which comprises peacekeeping, political talks and aid, Ban appealed to “the government of Sudan and to all the (warring) parties to refrain from military action” in order to find a lasting solution to the four year-old crisis.
The secretary general’s planned trip next week follows a UN Security Council resolution to send a 6,000-strong UN-African Union force to the region.
“Peacekeeping, alone, is not enough. It must be accompanied by a political solution. That is part two of my plan: to push the peace process,” Ban said yesterday in New York, adding “I will seek its (Sudan’s) full support when I meet with President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum”.
Ban said the ”third element” in his action plan involves humanitarian aid and development. “We can safeguard villages and help rebuild homes. Ultimately, however, any real solution to Darfur’s troubles involves something more -- sustained economic development,” he said.
Ban stressed on the need for money for new roads and communications, as well as health, education, sanitation and social reconstruction programmes and asked the international community to help.
He also highlighted the need for water, and mentioned recent reports about the possible presence of vast underground reserves.
“Water is the first requirement. Earlier this summer, scientists presented evidence of a vast underground lake beneath south-western Sudan’s arid plains.
“A team of UN engineers is on the ground; more will follow in what we hope will be a global effort. If there is indeed water there, we will leave no stone unturned to help find it,” he said.