Friday, 15/11/2019 | 3:09 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

Amid ongoing Drawdown of Peace Operation in Darfur, Security Situation Remains Stable, Civilian Protection Intact, Mission Head Tells Security Council

The ongoing reconfiguration of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) was having no adverse impact on security, although efforts towards a political solution to the conflict remained stalled, the Head of that Mission told the Security Council this morning as he presented the Secretary-General’s latest 60-day report on the situation there.

Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo, who is also the African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur, said implementation of phase two of UNAMID’s reconfiguration — in response to Council resolution 2363 (2017) — was proceeding very well, with no adverse impact on security or the protection of civilians in those areas from which the Mission had withdrawn.  Indeed, the overall security situation had remained calm, notwithstanding sporadic clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW), Government forces and nomads in Jebel Marra.

The peace process remained stalled, he said. It was encouraging, however, that, at a meeting with the Government in Berlin on 16-17 April, the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement seemed prone to accept the Doha Document on Peace in Darfur as the basis of negotiation, although they rejected certain proposed mechanisms.  With those two groups demonstrating a desire to keep engaging, he said he was in contact with all parties to bridge their differences.

Turning to the humanitarian situation, he said 1.76 million displaced people were registered in approximately 66 camps, with perhaps another 500,000 more living in 108 host communities and settlements in Darfur.  Those people had indicated a desire to return to their places of origin, so long as security and basic public services were guaranteed.  “For Darfur to be guaranteed of durable peace and development, durable solutions will have to be found for the plight of IDPs,” he said, referring to internally displaced persons.

Concluding, he said UNAMID and the United Nations country team in Sudan had finalized a joint financing approach for sustaining peace in Darfur, which needed support from the international community, including Council members, to succeed.  “It is imperative that concerted efforts be exerted towards mobilization of financial resources to consolidate and sustain the prevailing peace and stability of the region,” he said.

In the ensuing debate, Kuwait’s delegate said the improved security situation in Darfur had enabled a reduction in attacks against civilians, better aid delivery and the voluntary return of internally displaced persons.  Welcoming the joint mechanism between Sudan and the Arab League for development projects in Darfur, he went on to reaffirm the primacy of a political solution, the key role of the Doha Document and the return of certain factions to the peace forces, as had been seen last month in Berlin.

“The security situation appears to be more stable,” added Equatorial Guinea’s representative, praising the Government’s weapons collection programme and stressing that the focus must be kept on human rights violations.  Like other delegates, he voiced concern over slow progress in the peace process and emphasized the need for all parties to commit to implement the Doha Document.  He went on to voice support for renewing UNAMID’s mandate in June and suggested that the Council invite Thabo Mbeki, Chair of the African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur, to report on his work.

Sudan’s representative credited the return to stability in his country to his Government’s efforts, the support of the international community — including UNAMID — and the will and desire of Darfuris for peace and security.  “The current situation in Darfur speaks for itself,” he said.  On implementation of resolution 2363 (2017), he said the decision to draw down and reconfigure UNAMID had been correct, especially with Darfur entering a peacebuilding phase.  The Government’s ongoing campaign to collect weapons from civilians was having a positive impact and no effort would be spared to implement it, he said, stressing the importance of partnership with UNAMID and the Joint Representative in that regard.

A political settlement remained the Government’s main objective and it was working hard towards that end, he said.  Those armed groups which had refused to sign the Doha Document must be forced to do so and countries with influence must pressure them into engaging in negotiations without preconditions.  On sanctions, he said the Council should either remove individuals currently listed or add the name of Abdul Wahid for obstructing the peace process.

Also speaking this morning were representatives of Côte d’Ivoire, Bolivia, Peru and Kazakhstan.

The meeting began at 9:38 a.m. and ended at 10:32 a.m.

Briefing

JEREMIAH NYAMANE MAMABOLO, African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), speaking via video-teleconference from El Fashar, introduced the Secretary-General’s latest report on that Mission (document S/2018/389).  So far, he said, implementation of phase two of UNAMID’s reconfiguration was proceeding very well, with military and police components aligning their operational and administrative structures pursuant to Council resolution 2363 (2017).  Establishment of a State Stabilization Assistance Force responsible for areas beyond the jurisdiction of the Jebel Mara Task Force was on track.  There appeared to have been no adverse impact on security or the protection of civilians in those areas from which UNAMID had withdrawn, he said, and the Government of Sudan was expected to establish its authority — especially rule of law and justice institutions — in those places where it had not already done so.

While the peace process remained stalled, an encouraging development was a meeting with the Government of Sudan in Berlin on 16-17 April at which the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement seemed prone to accept the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur as the basis of negotiation, although they rejected certain proposed mechanisms, he said.  With those two groups demonstrating a desire to keep engaging, he said he was in contact with all parties to bridge their differences with a view to signing a pre-negotiation framework and paving the way for a cessation of hostilities pact and direct talks.

He said that since his last briefing on 20 February, the general security situation in Darfur remained calm, except for sporadic clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW), Government forces and nomads in Jebel Marra.  Due to access restrictions, UNAMID was unable to verify the number of casualties or how many civilians were affected, but amid village burnings, a significant number of people had been displaced.  Those small-scale skirmishes demonstrated the SLA/AW’s desire to challenge the Government and to sustain the conflict, he said.  For their part, the SLA-MM and the Justice and Equality Movement had remained largely inactive and appeared to be observing their unilateral ceasefire, which was recently extended to 6 August.

Turning to the humanitarian situation, he said 1.76 million displaced people were registered in approximately 66 camps.  Estimates of unregistered internally displaced persons varied considerably, but United Nations humanitarian agencies and partners said an additional 500,000 displaced people were living in 108 host communities and settlements in Darfur.  Those people had indicated a desire to return to their places of origin, so long as security and basic public services were guaranteed.  Others were willing to settle where they were, but only if there assured of traditional land rights.  “For Darfur to be guaranteed of durable peace and development, durable solutions will have to be found for the plight of IDPs,” he said, referring to internally displaced persons.

Concluding, he said that as UNAMID continued its reconfiguration and drawdown, the transition phase would be critical in creating the foundation for a durable peace.  To that end, together with the United Nations country team, the Mission had finalized a joint financing approach for sustaining peace in Darfur.  UNAMID was counting on the support of the international community, including Council members, for that approach to succeed.  “It is imperative that concerted efforts be exerted towards mobilization of financial resources to consolidate and sustain the prevailing peace and stability of the region,” he said.

Statements

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) welcomed positive results achieved by the Government, the African Union and the United Nations, as had been seen in reduced fighting between the Government and rebels in Darfur.  “The security situation appears to be more stable” he said, praising the Government’s weapons collection programme and stressing that the focus must be kept on human rights violations, which lately had fallen.  But conditions were precarious and he voiced hope for an end to atrocities.  He voiced concern over slow progress in the search for a peaceful solution in Darfur, noting that the Doha Document was a viable framework for peace and it was important for all parties to commit to its implementation.  The conflict in Darfur should be resolved through a political process and he urged all movements to make peace with the Government through frank and inclusive negotiations.  Increased efforts were also needed to support Sudan in finding solutions to the causes of the conflict.  Equatorial Guinea supported the renewal of UNAMID’s mandate in June and suggested inviting to the Council Thabo Mbeki, Chair of the African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur, to report on his work, noting the consideration of targeted sanctions against groups that refused to participate in negotiations.

ALCIDE DJEDJE (Côte d’Ivoire) welcomed that the security situation in Darfur remained stable, praising the Government’s weapons control programme to ensure that only regular forces were equipped with arms.  He welcomed the unilateral Government ceasefire, urging all parties to engage in frank discussions to achieve a permanent ceasefire.  Voicing concern over the stalled peace process and slow implementation of the Doha Document, as well as regret about divisions over land ownership, he said implementing the Doha Document would bring about lasting solutions to the causes of the conflict.  The Council must do its utmost to help parties assume ownership for achieving an inclusive peace agreement.  Condemning the 24 February attack against UNAMID, notably as a violation of the Status of Forces Agreement, he noted the improved cooperation between the Mission and the Government and pressed the Government to strictly comply with that Agreement.  Noting that had been no negative impacts from UNAMID’s withdrawal from certain areas during the first phase of its reconfiguration, he welcomed that the second phase of its reconfiguration had begun and that the Jebel Mara Task Force had been formed.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia), welcoming the stable security situation in Darfur, the Government’s extended unilateral ceasefire until 30 June and its weapons collection campaign, nonetheless expressed regret over clashes between army and SPLA Abdul Wahid.  Citing improved humanitarian access and the return of 2,000 internally displaced persons to Yasin, he encouraged the international community to support projects that allowed displaced persons to access basic services.  On the political front, it was important to implement the Doha Document and step up efforts to resolve differences around it, he said, encouraging those who had not signed it to engage with the Government to achieve a cessation of hostilities. Citing the 25 February African Union communiqué outlining possible sanctions against those hampering peace prospects, he welcomed that the first phase of UNAMID’s reconfiguration was complete and the second phase had started, emphasizing that the Mission’s withdrawal from some areas had not created any negative consequences.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), while welcoming that the situation in Darfur was stable and that intercommunal violence had decreased, expressed regret that the peace process was stalled and encouraged parties to address the causes of the crisis.  While the number of human rights violations had fallen, figures were still high and he expressed concern about the safety of women and children.  He welcomed UNAMID’s escort and protection work in that context and condemned sexual violence, which was particularly high around camps for internally displaced persons.  Such abuse was often not reported due to a lack of protection and he thus recommended that more women be appointed as prosecutors, judges and police.  Aid access had improved, but not all areas of Jebel Mara, and northern Darfur could face a level 4 emergency.  It was important to implement the Doha Document and a permanent ceasefire, he said.

DIDAR TEMENOV (Kazakhstan) said his Government was encouraged by the improved security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, and reduction in clashes, crime and human rights violations, thanks to cooperation among the Government, United Nations and the African Union, welcoming in particular the arms collection campaign.  Yet, implementation of the Doha Document was still slow.  Welcoming the extended cessation of hostilities that sought to create conducive conditions for peace talks, he pressed the Council to consider all necessary measures to pressure parties that had not joined the peace process.  He welcomed progress on UNAMID’s reconfiguration and that there had been no adverse impacts of its withdrawal from certain areas.  It was essential to reconsider UNAMID’s mandate to better reflect the ground situation, citing priorities around support for capacity-building and quick impact measures.  He encouraged States to provide financial and technical support to the Government to address root causes of the conflict, which included drought and crop failure.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) welcomed the stability in Darfur, noting his delegation had taken part in the field visit and seen the positive impact of the arms collection campaign.  The improved security situation had enabled a reduction in attacks against civilians, better aid delivery and the voluntary return of internally displaced persons.  Welcoming the joint mechanism between Sudan and the Arab League for development projects in Darfur, he went on to reaffirm the primacy of a political solution in Darfur, the key role of the Doha Document and the return of certain factions to the peace forces, as had been seen last month in Berlin.  Yet, he expressed regret that those groups had attempted to negotiate outside the Doha Document framework.  He welcomed the cooperation between the Government and UNAMID, noting that there had been no negative impacts of UNAMID’s withdrawal from the eight zones where it had previously been stationed.  He agreed there should be a clear transition plan that facilitated UNAMID’s withdrawal from the operation, adding that Kuwait awaited the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ report regarding the second phase of the Mission’s reconfiguration.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) said the situation in Sudan had seen great progress and a return to stability after many years of conflict, thanks to the Government’s efforts, the support of the international community — including UNAMID — and the will and desire of Darfuris for peace and security.  “The current situation in Darfur speaks for itself,” he said, with peace becoming tangible even in those places where Abdul Wahid held sway.  Going forward, the Government knew full well what was required, including addressing the root causes of the conflict.  In that regard, the international community must provide the necessary assistance, either directly or through the United Nations, he said, calling also on donor countries to meet their past obligations.  He thanked the Secretary-General for approving support through the Peacebuilding Fund, as well as for the assistance of “friendly and brotherly countries” including Qatar, Japan and Turkey, as well as the European Union and League of Arab States, among others.

On implementation of resolution 2363 (2017), he said the decision to draw down and reconfigure UNAMID had been correct, especially with Darfur entering a peacebuilding phase.  Sudan looked forward to the conclusions of the African Union-United Nations strategic review of the Mission, as it was high time to implement an exit strategy and a peacebuilding programme.  The Government’s ongoing campaign to collect weapons from civilians was having a positive impact and no effort would be spared to implement it, he said, stressing partnership with UNAMID and the Joint Representative in that regard.

A political settlement remained the Government’s main objective and it was working hard towards that end, with the Doha Document as the reference point, he said.  Eighty-five per cent of that agreement had already been implemented.  Those armed groups which had refused to sign the Doha Document must be forced to do so, but as peace and elections would leave them out of the equation, they would spare no effort to undermine the peace process and UNAMID’s exit strategy.  Nevertheless, he said, countries with influence must pressure those armed groups into engaging in negotiations without preconditions.  He added that some armed groups had been thriving on conflict in neighbouring Libya and South Sudan, and that Abdul Wahid was empowered only by its “media mouthpieces” operating in refugee camps.

He went on to call for coherence between resolution 1591 (2005), by which the Council — acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter — imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on those impeding peace efforts or committing human rights violations, and resolution 2363 (2017).  Either those names currently on the sanctions list should be removed, or that of Abdul Wahid added, as it was he and his limited number of followers who were obstructing the peace process.  Emphasizing that the area of Jebel Marra controlled by Abdul Wahid amounted to less than 5 per cent of Darfur, he said the international community must resolve that normalization must not be held captive to the bad faith and whims of that individual.  All that was needed was to divest him of any form of political support and to send him a message of zero tolerance.

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