Monitoring mission ready to hand over Sudan area to UN

Nuba Mountains
Jan 19, 2004 (dpa)

The International Joint Military Committee/Mission(JMC/JMM) overseeing the humanitarian ceasefire agreement in Sudan's Nuba Mountains region said Monday that it would hand over the region to the United Nations peacekeeping force once a comprehensive deal is reached in Sudan.

"JMM/JMC is prepared for the UN to take over the business," stated Brigadier General Jan Erik Wilhelmsen, head of the international observers during a press conference held in the area.

The Sudanese government and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Nuba (SPLM/Nuba) meanwhile formally agreed to renew the ceasefire for another six months on a fifth JMC/JMM mandate.

The Friends of the Nuba Mountains - a group of 12 Western nations supporting the peace-process in the area - had also pledged to secure the financial needs of the JMM/JMC Mission.

Whilhemsen, a Norwegian national, said there had been no major violations to the ceasefire since the government and the SPLM/Nuba Mountains sector signed the truce at Buergenstock, Switzerland two years ago.

Of 54 investigated alleged ceasefire violations, only nine cases had been considered real violations.

However the region's population had steadily reached 1.3 million as a result of the significant improvement in working conditions in terms of security wise and the free movement of the indigenous population in the Nuba Mountains.

The international mission according to Wilhelmsen had successfully demined, opened and improved various roads especially those liking rebels and government held areas especially around Umm Sirdibba and between Al Reika and Tallodi towns.

The JMC further planned to include rehabilitating roads and airfields in the SPLA controlled area of Kauda, so as to help U.N. agencies primarily deliver vast quantities of humanitarian aid to the needy people there.

For the JMC by far the greatest motivating factor to carry on the mission had been the excellent contact with the local population and listening to their comments, the commander maintained. It was clear the people wanted peace and development.