12/05/2005
Press Release
SC/8383


Security Council

5176th & 5177th Meetings (AM & PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF INCREASED COORDINATED INTERNATIONAL


ASSISTANCE FOR AFRICAN UNION EFFORT IN SUDAN


In Presidential Statement, Council Applauds ‘Vital Leadership Role’

Of African Union, Supports Its Decisions to Expand DarfurMission to 7,731


The Security Council emphasized today the importance of increased, coordinated international assistance for the African Union effort in Darfur, Sudan, and the readiness of the United Nations to continue playing a key role.


In a statement read out at the Council’s second meeting today by Ellen Margrethe Løj (Denmark), its President for May, the Council applauded the African Union’s vital leadership role in Darfur and the work of the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) on the ground.  The Council also voiced support for the decision by that regional body’s Peace and Security Council to expand its mission to 7,731 personnel by the end of September 2005.


Recalling its request in resolution 1590 (2005) for close and continuous coordination between the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and AMIS, especially with regard to the Abuja peace process, the Council looked forward to continuing contacts in order to facilitate assistance as requested by the African Union.  It welcomed the findings of the African Union-led joint assessment mission from 10 to 22 March and the second joint assessment mission from 1 to 4 May, which included representatives from the African Union, United Nations and other partners.


At a meeting earlier today, the Council heard a briefing in which Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, stressed that short-term stability in Darfur would require considerable strengthening of AMIS.  A lasting solution to the continuing instability, violence and civilian suffering in the region could only be found through serious political engagement by the parties within the Abuja process.  However, it was also clear that there was no tangible progress in Abuja and that in view of the difficulties faced in the negotiation process, the actions of AMIS were all the more critical.


He said that the African Union’s recommendation for expanding logistical support to AMIS was best accomplished by building on existing systems, in which individual donors provided support.  After a slow start, that system was working well and to change it now would disrupt, rather than enhance, operations.  The Secretary-General’s proposals for United Nations aid to the African mission focused on technical assistance and training support in such key areas as helping the African Union to develop a detailed operational plan to expand AMIS and supporting pre-deployment training of military and civilian personnel.  United Nations personnel were currently working with staff from AMIS and the African Union headquarters to develop a detailed concept of operations for the expansion of the African mission.


The first meeting began at 10:17 a.m. and ended at 10:33 a.m.  The second meeting began at 1 p.m. and ended at 1:05 p.m.


Presidential Statement


The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2005/18 reads, as follows:


“The Security Council welcomes the report of the Secretary General on assistance by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) of 3 May 2005 (S/2005/285) and the proposals therein on support the United Nations could make available to the AMIS.


“The Security Council applauds the vital leadership role the African Union is playing in Darfur and the work of AMIS on the ground.  The Council supports the findings of the joint assessment mission, led by the African Union from 10-22 March 2005, which included UN and other partners.  The Council also supports the subsequent decision taken by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council on 28 April 2005 to expand its mission in Darfur to 7,731 personnel by the end of September 2005.


“The Security Council welcomes the ongoing deployment of UNMIS and looks forward to close coordination and cooperation between UNMIS and AMIS.  In this context, the Council recalls its request in resolution 1590 for UNMIS to closely and continuously liaise and coordinate, at all levels, with the African Union Mission in Sudan with a view towards expeditiously reinforcing the effort to foster peace in Darfur, especially with regard to the Abuja peace process and the African Union Mission in Sudan.


“The Security Council welcomes the role played by the African Union’s partners in support of AMIS and underlines the active role played by the EU (European Union) and by other, bilateral, donors.


“The Council emphasizes the importance of increased coordinated international assistance for the African Union effort in Darfur and emphasizes the readiness of the UN to continue playing a key role.  In this context, the Council welcomes the second joint assessment mission from 1-4 May, which included representatives from the African Union, United Nations and other partners.  The Council looks forward to continuing contacts in order to facilitate provision of assistance as requested by the African Union.  The Council welcomes, in this regard, the effort and intention of the Secretary General to consult closely with the African Union on the scope and nature of possible UN support to AMIS.”


Briefing by Assistant Secretary-General


HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that the monthly report on Darfur made clear that instability, violence and civilian suffering in that troubled region continued, and that a lasting solution could only be found through serious political engagement by the parties within the Abuja process.  It also confirmed that stability in the region in the short term would require considerable strengthening of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS).  The second report before the Council described steps being taken by the African Union to strengthen AMIS and proposed assistance which the United Nations could provide in that regard.


Organized violence in the region continued throughout the last month, he said.  Attacks on civilians, rape, kidnapping and banditry actually had increased from the previous month.  While there was no evidence of direct involvement by regular Government forces last month, there were widespread reports of abuse by militia.


During the reporting period, the two rebel movements, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), also had attacked militia and police.  In what had become a disturbing trend, they had also seized at gunpoint a number of vehicles being operated commercially and by humanitarian organizations.  Staff from humanitarian organizations were also subjected to increased harassment by local authorities, particularly in South Darfur.  That was a worrying trend in light of the role played by the humanitarian community in sustaining the 2.45 million conflict-affected civilians in Darfur.


The adoption by the Council of resolutions 1591 (2005) and 1593 (2005), on 29 and 31 March, respectively, also had had an impact during the reporting period, he continued.  In addition to protests in Khartoum, the two resolutions resulted in increased tensions in the Darfur region among those who perceived themselves to be implicated by the Council’s action.  The Government of the Sudan must give its unequivocal support to both resolutions to minimize any risk of hostile action by those individuals and their followers against the United Nations in the Sudan.


While violence continued in Darfur throughout April, regrettably there was no tangible progress in Abuja, he said.  The last round of talks was in December 2004.  While the African Union was working towards reconvening the Abuja Talks next week, it was not yet clear whether the parties were committed to meaningful negotiations.  That was a matter of very serious concern.  Clearly, lasting peace in Darfur would only come through a negotiated settlement.  The parties must dedicate themselves to making the Abuja process work; and the international community should continue to make it clear that it was the negotiation process which would lead to peace.


In view of the difficulties faced in the negotiation process, the actions of the African Union Mission were all the more critical, he said.  During the reporting period, the total uniformed strength of the African Union Mission was 2,409 troops and 244 police.  While there was a consensus that AMIS was having a very positive impact where it was able to deploy, the African Union Peace and Security Council, in its 28 April decision, had decided to expand AMIS, more than doubling its size to the level of 6,171 military personnel and 1,560 civilian police, and had called for the strengthened mission to be in place by the end of September 2005.


The African Union Commission had already taken steps to implement the decision of the Peace and Security Council, including preliminary contact with potential troop contributors, he went on.  Initial indications were that additional troops would be identified and made available for AMIS.  He was awaiting the results of a troop-contributors meeting that the African Union would convene in the coming days.  Notwithstanding those activities, the strengthening of AMIS would be a considerable challenge which would require the concerted support of all the African Union’s partners. 


The Secretary-General’s proposals for United Nations assistance to the African Union Mission were based on the findings and recommendations of an African Union-led mission to Darfur undertaken last March, he said.  That mission had concluded that insecurity in Darfur remained unacceptable.  It also had concluded that, where AMIS was deployed, it was doing an outstanding job under difficult circumstances.  On that basis, it was recommended that AMIS be strengthened, initially in two phases, with a possible follow-on mission that could be decided on in September 2005.  It was also recommended that logistical support for the expansion was best accomplished by building on existing systems, in which individual donors provided support to AMIS.  After a slow start, that system was working well; to change it now would disrupt operations rather than enhance them.


He said the proposals focused on technical assistance and training support in a number of key areas, including assisting the African Union to develop a detailed operational plan for AMIS’ expansion, and support for pre-deployment training of African Union military and civilian personnel.  The African Union Commission had accepted the modalities for United Nations assistance, and United Nations personnel were currently working with staff from AMIS and the Union headquarters to develop a detailed concept of operations for the expansion of the African Union Mission. 


The African Union had the unequivocal support of the United Nations as it continued its peacekeeping role in Darfur and all possible steps should be taken to ensure that AMIS received the donor support required to expand expeditiously and effectively.  It must be remembered that a lasting solution to the Darfur crisis would come through a negotiated settlement and that all efforts should be made to bring the parties together for the next round of talks in Abuja, he concluded.


Background


When the Security Council met today, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations assistance to the African Union Mission in the Sudan (document S/2005/285).  In resolution 1590 (2005), the Council requested the Secretary-General to report to it on options for the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) to reinforce the effort to foster peace in Darfur through appropriate assistance to the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS).


The security situation in Darfur is misleading at the moment, states the report, because attacks on civilians are not occurring on the massive scale encountered in 2004.  But the violence continues, including a brutal attack on the village of Khor Abeche, in southern Darfur, on 7 April.  Moreover, if those already displaced were to return home, it is widely assumed that they would suffer renewed attacks.  There is continuing insecurity around many of the existing camps for internally displaced persons, and there is concern that recruitment and insecurity inside many of the camps may increase.


At the same time, in the areas where AMIS had deployed, it was doing an outstanding job under very difficult circumstances, greatly contributing to an improved security situation.  It was, therefore, concluded that AMIS should be strengthened, initially in two phases, with a possible follow-on operation that should be decided upon in September 2005.


The aim of the first phase, which should be substantially concluded by the end of May 2005, is for AMIS to reach full operational effectiveness within its existing authorized strength of 3,320. Achieving this aim requires full deployment of military, police and other civilian personnel; putting in place the remaining logistics and administrative support, enhancing structures for organization, management, command and control; and streamlining some operational procedures.  Benchmarks for success in this phase would include full deployment of the authorized mission and implementation of the recommendations of the African Union-led assessment mission for achieving maximum operational capability.


The second phase, which would entail deployments from June to August 2005, would expand AMIS to 5,887 military personnel and 1,560 police (totalling 7,447), plus appropriate civilian staff.  There would not be any increase in the number of observers as any additional requirement would be met through rationalizing the deployment of the existing 450 personnel.  Success for phase II would entail improved compliance with the N’djamena humanitarian ceasefire agreement and the Abuja humanitarian and security protocols; a secure environment for internally displaced persons in and around the camps; and a secure environment and access to humanitarian relief and services for civilians who are not yet displaced (or who are returning), but are deemed vulnerable.


The aim of the third phase is to contribute to a secure environment throughout Darfur which would permit full returns of displaced persons in time for the planting season of 2006.  This must be carried out in close coordination among the military, police, humanitarian and development organizations, civil authorities, and the affected population.  To meet this timetable, a decision to initiate the third phase would have to be taken by September 2005.


Phase III entails a complex, multidimensional operation of more than 12,000 military and police personnel.  While it would be up to the States members of the African Union to decide on how to proceed, they may conclude that the completion of phase II provides an opportune moment for the wider international community to assume its responsibilities by fielding this larger operation, which would also require a substantial increase in resources.


The African Union-led assessment mission to Darfur provided an opportunity to explore the options for UNMIS to reinforce the efforts of AMIS, in particular, in the areas of logistical support and technical assistance.  While AMIS will continue to rely on external support to implement phases I and II described by the African Union-led assessment mission, the assistance UNMIS can provide is limited, because the United Nations Mission will have to focus all of its resources and attention on deploying in support of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).


The United Nations and the Mission in the Sudan can assist in the following areas where required and appropriate:  identify qualified police personnel in support of completing phase I; assist the African Union to develop a detailed operational plan for the expansion of AMIS; technical advice in the areas of logistics, planning and management; support to training for African Union personnel; support in selecting police personnel for phase II; and support in convening troop contributor and pledging conferences.


Also before the Council is the monthly report of the Secretary-General on Darfur (document S/2005/305), which states that in April, both the rebel movements and the militias continued to manoeuvre to improve their positions while the peace talks remained stalled.  Both sides are, thus, guilty of violating existing agreements and previous resolutions.  However, militia attacks are by far the greatest cause of terror and suffering for civilians.  While it has been noted that the Government has restrained its forces, it has still not taken action to stop militia attacks and end the climate of impunity that encourages those responsible for ongoing violations.


Following the adoption of resolutions 1591 (2005) and 1593 (2005), tension in the DarfurStates and Khartoum has increased, and with it the risks of hostile action against the United Nations and other elements of the international presence in Darfur.  The Secretary-General urges the Government to make clear its acceptance of all recent resolutions relating to the Sudan and Darfur, and to ensure that a cooperative policy is reflected in word and deed by its officials at all levels.


Events in April demonstrated clearly that, without progress on the political level, the suffering of the civilian population of Darfur will continue.  Innocent people will continue to be driven into camps and terrorized into postponing their return.  Militia groups will continue to steal, rape and kill with impunity.  Rebel movements will continue to fight with whatever capacity they can acquire, be it in violation of the arms embargo, or be it by armed robbery from organizations that have come to aid the very people the rebels claim to represent.  The representatives at the next round of talks in Abuja have it in their power to halt this downward spiral which has, over the past two years, caused such tremendous suffering, death and destruction.


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