KHARTOUM, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said that the conflict in Darfur of Sudan has changed for the better and the peacekeeping mission there must change with it to better serve the local people.

Briefing the Security Council on an official report on the AU-UN hybrid mission, or UNAMID, Lacroix said the situation in Darfur has changed "radically" for the better. "The fighting between the government and rebel groups remains confined to parts of the mountainous Jebel Marra area."

In this light, he said "now is the time to plan for the future of UN and AU support to Darfur: by closely linking the drawdown in peacekeeping to the build-up in peace and development."

The UN under-secretary-general noted UNAMID is in its final stage of a year-long reconfiguration, which saw 11 team sites closed, as well as a shift toward peacekeeping mainly in Jebel Marra and peacebuilding in the rest of Darfur.

He added the mission's area of operations would be reduced to 13 team sites in greater Jebel Marra and its headquarters moving from El Fasher to Zalingei, central Darfur.

Overall, the force strength would be reduced from 8,735 to 4,050 military personnel, and the police component would be reduced from 2,500 officers to 1,870, according to Lacrox.

He underscored the "transition concept" presented in the report, which aims to bridge the transition from peacekeeping to early recovery and development in Darfur.

"The whole-of-system transition concept focuses on addressing the critical drivers of conflict and preventing relapse," he said.

Source: Nam News Network

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