Greetings from Kampala, Uganda, where I am attending the African Union Summit. I just completed a trip to Sudan, including stops in Khartoum, Darfur and Juba for meetings with the AU/UN, the CPA parties, and various experts on education, environment, and agro-pastoral issues in Darfur.
In El Fasher, I continued my conversations on these themes with UNAMID officials, local government officials, civil society leaders, other UN agencies, and NGOs. I have also used these meetings to underscore the absolute necessity of improving civilian protection and security in Darfur before large-scale development can take place.
Security was a key element of my conversations with the North Darfur police commissioner, attorney general, and head of corrections. I also met with the State Committee on Combating Violence Against Women and Children and a Family and Child Protection Unit within the Sudanese police. I saw positive steps being taken, but much work remains to be done.
In my meetings with UNAMID officials, we discussed the recent deterioration in security conditions. UNAMID highlighted that much of this deterioration is due to increased intertribal fighting in addition to combat operations. It is clear that the underlying drivers of conflict in Darfur, including environmental degradation and disputes over land and water resources, continue to contribute to Darfur's security problems.
My conversations with civil society leaders and government officials also reaffirmed the importance of livelihoods and alternative income generating opportunities in reducing criminality and banditry, which have been a growing problem inside and outside IDP camps during the past several months. It is essential the international community account more comprehensively for the unique livelihoods of both sedentary and nomadic populations as we develop urban and rural early recovery strategies.
I visited a government-run tree nursery that grows 90-95 percent of North Darfur's tree seedlings as well as a small-scale private tree nursery where a former teacher has started her own business. I also visited a technical school, observed a demonstration of sustainable brick making, and met with officials from the state-level Ministries of Agriculture and Education.
Later, I returned to Abu Shouk IDP camp to visit a school and distribute solar cookers at a women's center. I also spent time in a village where NGOs are implementing projects to support a community forest, goat restocking, para-veterinarians and animal midwives, terracing techniques, and water reservoir management.
Tomorrow, I will travel on to Doha for meetings with the Darfur mediation team and negotiating parties. A fully implemented ceasefire and comprehensive negotiated political settlement remain key to sustainable peace in the region.