Posted by: africanpressorganization | 18 December 2008

Sudan / Ethiopia / Eritrea / Fifth committee takes up progress report on $1.5 billion budget of African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur for 2008/09 / Also Takes Up Ethiopia-Eritrea Mission Budget, Following Termination of Mandate Effective 31 July 2008






Sudan / Ethiopia / Eritrea / Fifth committee takes up progress report on $1.5 billion budget of African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur for 2008/09 / Also Takes Up Ethiopia-Eritrea Mission Budget,

Following Termination of Mandate Effective 31 July 2008


NEW YORK, December 18, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Presented with an update on the $1.5 billion budget of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for 2008/09, speakers in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) expressed serious concern over the fact that the documents on what the African Group characterized as “the biggest slice of the peacekeeping budget” were being introduced just days before the end of the session.  Sudan’s representative said that delayed issuance of documentation forced States to take hasty and “unprepared” decisions.


Addressing the financing of UNAMID on behalf of the African Group, the representative of Angola expressed confidence that UNAMID would be at full strength by the end of 2009, notwithstanding the current “backlog” in terms of its full deployment.  UNAMID’s work would encompass support to the peace process, security, rule of law, governance and human rights.  It would also act as a humanitarian liaison and provide support for recovery and development.


Introducing the documents before the Committee, the United Nations Controller, Jun Yamazaki, said that some $1.28 billion had been appropriated for the establishment of UNAMID for the 2007/08 period.  The total expenditures for that period amounted to about $1.06 billion, leaving an unencumbered balance of $219.18 million.  The lower expenditures were primarily attributable to the delayed deployment of the mission.


UNAMID’s progress report for the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 contained updated resource requirements, including a revised deployment plan and projected expenditures for the period in the amount of about $1.5 billion, he said.  Projected expenditures provided for realignment of resources, and additional requirements related to the airlift of critical equipment from El Obeid and Port Sudan into Darfur, as well as the direct airlift of contingent-owned equipment, rehabilitation and enhancement of airports in El Fasher, Nyala and El Geneina, and construction of additional living accommodations.


Commenting on those documents, Angola’s representative recalled the decision to reduce the mission’s budget last summer, but added that it was untimely for the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) to recommend an additional reduction of $100 million in the amount to be assessed on Member States for the period ending on 30 June 2009.  The mission was halfway through its budget cycle, and the level of financial resources decided upon in May 2008 was believed to be sufficient.  UNAMID should be given the $649.86 million proposed by the Secretary-General for the period from 1 January to 30 June 2009, since its scope, vastness and hybrid nature justified that allocation.


The cooperation shown by the Sudanese Government towards UNAMID was appreciated, she added.  Because of it, UNAMID could use local airports in Darfur “for extended hours” to allow equipment to be airlifted from Port Sudan and El Obeid.  The Government had also authorized the rehabilitation of airports at El Fasher and Nyala, and an upgrade of the new airport at El Geneina.


Noting that the deployment of the Operation’s military and police personnel had been delayed due to the difficulties in transportation, engineering and security, Japan’s representative suggested adjusting the level of the assessment for the period from 1 January to 30 June 2009, based on updated information as it became available.  That approach could help to preserve the delicate balance between effective mandate performance and budgetary discipline.  He appreciated the Advisory Committee’s efforts towards that end.  His delegation would be looking carefully at all means of making missions cost-efficient.  With a view to further adjustment of the level of assessment, the Secretary-General should provide the most up-to-date information on the status of force generation and preparations for deployment.


He also noted the timely transfer of authority from the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) to UNAMID on 31 December 2007, as well as the absorption of the regional office in El Fasher and three sub-offices of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) into UNAMID effective 1 January 2008.  It was regrettable that the political process had remained at a standstill, despite the mediation efforts of the African Union and United Nations Special Envoys for Darfur.  He also regretted that the deployment of the Operation’s uniformed personnel had been substantially delayed, attributing the unencumbered balance of $219.18 million primarily to that fact.  His delegation asked for further information on that amount, which had remained unencumbered, despite the reduction of the appropriation by the Advisory Committee and the General Assembly.


The representative of Sudan, aligning himself with the African Group, voiced appreciation for the partnership shown by the United Nations and the African Union with his Government to operationalize UNAMID.  For its part, his Government had convened a conference for all Sudanese parties, which had drawn up recommendations to achieve stability in Darfur, a goal that was further reaffirmed by the President’s unilateral declaration of a ceasefire.  There was also an African-Arab initiative, under the leadership of Qatar, to convene all Sudanese parties, with African Union and Arab League participation, to seek a “just, permanent and urgent solution to Darfur”.  The United Nations should support that initiative by encouraging rebel groups to respond to the “voice of peace”.


The Government was cooperating with UNAMID by allowing the use of airports in El Fasher and Nyala for longer hours, and also allowing the use of the new El Geneina airport.  He observed that UNAMID had been “mandated” to rehabilitate the first two airports and to upgrade the third, as well as to complete the fleet (by providing both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters).  UNAMID had also been able to obtain land in North, South and West Darfur for its camps, and work was currently under way to build new camps and to expand current ones.  He appreciated the Secretary-General’s description of the progress on that end, and hoped other partners would fulfil their commitments.


The national strategy for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, initiated in March, had led to the launch of a multi-year plan in June, he said.  Funds should be allocated in support of those plans.  He also looked forward to seeing more national staff on the ground.  At the moment, the vacancy rate for national staff stood at 51 per cent.  He also asked for details on the use of national contractors, the ratio of national to outside contractors, and the results of seminars to attract national staff to UNAMID, as set out in resolution 62/232. That resolution also called on the Secretary-General to entrust the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) with the task of reviewing “the use of the extraordinary measures for the Operation”, as contained in a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the General Assembly.  He called on the Secretariat to provide an oral and written briefing on measures taken to implement that paragraph.


The Committee also had before it a revised budget of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), following the termination of its mandate by the Security Council, effective 31 July 2008.  The report before the Committee provided for a reduction of the appropriation from the amount of $100.37 million approved by the Assembly for the maintenance of the Mission for the 2008/09 period to $37 million; reduction of the staff assessment income to $1.11 million from the amount of $2.34 million; and assessment of the additional amount of $28.65 million for the administrative liquidation of the Mission, taking into account the amount of $8.75 million already assessed on Member States.


Japan requested the Secretary-General to complete the liquidation by the end of January 2009, as indicated in his report.  Among other things, he also shared the views of the Advisory Committee on the importance of adequate oversight during the liquidation phase.  Reiterating his full support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to maintain peace and security, he added that cooperation between host countries and the United Nations was key to successful fulfilment of mandates given to the missions by the Security Council.


The reports of ACABQ were introduced by that body’s Vice-Chairman, Collen Kelapile.


The Committee will take up the budget outline for 2010-2011 and the first performance report for the current biennium at 10 a.m. Thursday, 18 December.





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