The joint UN-African Union hybrid force for Darfur assumed authority from the African Union mission in Sudan on 31 December 2007. At the time of transfer of authority, the total strength of the mission was approximately 9,800. The UN-African Union hybrid force for Darfur will increase in strength and capability throughout 2008. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations is overseeing the on-going deployment in conjunction with the African Union. We are working closely with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to ensure the joint UN-African Union hybrid force for Darfur becomes fully established as quickly as possible.
The African Union-UN hybrid mission in Darfur is being generated by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations continues to meet with potential contributing countries and has received pledges for most of the requisite units for the African Union-UN hybrid mission in Darfur. However, shortfalls remain, including in helicopters and ground transportation. In support of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations we convened a meeting of a number of countries in New York on 16 January to discuss generating helicopter units for the African Union-UN hybrid mission in Darfur. A follow-up meeting will take place in the coming weeks. We are also investigating the possibility of further meetings with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and partners to discuss other support to the African Union-UN hybrid mission in Darfur.
There has been a deterioration in security in West Darfur since the end of November 2007: there have been cross-border incursions by Chadian government forces pursuing Chadian rebels and clashes between rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese armed forces.
Elements of the UN-African Union hybrid force are already deployed in West Darfur. An attack on a UN-African Union hybrid force convoy by the Sudanese armed forces on 7 January in West Darfur—which Sudanese authorities claim was a mistake—was condemned by the UN Security Council. We are pressing all parties—the Government of Sudan, Government of Chad, and rebel groups—to exercise restraint, and we are supporting the Department of Peacekeeping Operation's efforts towards the prompt establishment of an effective UN-African Union hybrid force precisely to improve security in the region.