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Peaceful co-existence focus of West Darfur conference

Photo by Matilda Moyo , UNAMID.

EL GENEINA - More than 700 people, including the head of UNAMID and key community leaders, gathered to address the issue of peaceful co-existence at a conference this week in El Geneina, West Darfur.

Jeremiah Mamabolo, UNAMID Joint Special Representative, spoke at the event, which was hosted by Fadl Alhaja, the Wali (Governor) of West Darfur and Saad Bahreldin, Sultan Dar Masalit (the Masalit tribal leader).

Other participants at the event – which was jointly supported by UNAMID and the UN Development Programme -- included leaders from West Darfur’s Native Administration, tribal and community leaders, internally displaced persons (IDPs), civil society representatives, and women and youth. Also taking part were Native Administration representatives from Khartoum, Central and South Darfur and neighboring Chad.

The conference provided an opportunity to discuss the root causes of tribal conflicts, such as the land issue, and explore practical solutions with the help of experts from Sudan and Chad. The meeting also sought to enhance the role of the Native Administration in supporting reconciliation and adopting measures to prevent the recurrence of inter-communal tension.

Mr. Mamabolo told the conference that peace and security are essential for sustainable development.  “One of UNAMID’s strategic priorities is to support local mediation of communal conflicts, including addressing the root causes,” he said.

Mr. Mamabolo outlined a number of UNAMID-supported projects – which aim to promote peaceful co-existence -- including two water projects for Umtajok and surrounding communities. He reiterated UMAMID’s support to the people of West Darfur and other stakeholders to facilitate implementation of the conference recommendations.  

The recommendations, in the form of a written request to Mr. Alhaja, included a request for support to the Community Initiative for Peaceful Coexistence, ensuring the application of the rule of law and enhancement of the Native Administration’s role in working towards peaceful coexistence and reconciliation.

In his remarks, Mr. Alhaja, highlighted the importance of the event and pointed to the Government’s role in implementation of conference recommendations and revision of the local government system.

“This conference is an essential link in the chain of peace, security and stability, as well as in supporting the community initiative for peace peaceful coexistence in West Darfur,” said Mr. Alhaja.

Mr. Bahreldin called upon local government to provide services that enable IDPs to return to their villages.  

“We are gathered here to crown our long journey of dialogue and quest for peace with an obligation to ourselves, that we implement the recommendations of this conference,” he said.

Christopher Laker, UNDP Darfur Regional Coordinator, said the programme has partnered with UNAMID Civil Affairs Section, the Native Administrations and State Governments in each of Darfur’s states, to support community peace forums that promote reconciliation and settlement of disputes by the Native Administration at community level.

Omda Ibrahim, a conference participant, expressed his appreciation for UNAMID’s support towards initiatives that promote peace and pave the way for peaceful co-existence.  He also commended the Mission’s proactive role in supporting such events, which afford the people of Darfur an opportunity to address issues and identify feasible solutions.