|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6956th Meeting (AM)
Top UN Peacekeeping Official Says Situation in Darfur Remains ‘Very Troubling’,
Even While Mildly Encouraging Developments Made in Doha Peace Effort
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous Briefs;
Sudan Notes Report Describes ‘Noticeable Progress’ in Implementing Doha Document
The situation in Darfur was “very troubling”, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous told the Security Council today, and while there had been “mildly encouraging” developments in the process to achieve peace in Sudan’s restive western region, a fully inclusive political settlement had yet to be reached and resolving the protracted conflict required joint efforts to persuade belligerent parties to lay down their weapons and join negotiations.
“There is no military solution to the crisis,” said Mr. Ladsous in his briefing on the political, security and humanitarian developments in Darfur since the Secretary-General’s 10 April report on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document S/2013/225). The Council also heard a presentation by Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, Permanent Representative of Sudan to the United Nations.
Resolving the crisis required a combined effort by the Council, the African Union and the wider international community, Mr. Ladsous said, with attention on Darfur as important as ever amid newer crises around the area. “The people of Darfur have suffered too long,” he stressed, pressing the Council to do its utmost to support UNAMID and apply more pressure on the parties to reach a negotiated settlement. UNAMID was working hard to implement its mandate in “very challenging” circumstances. Better cooperation by Sudanese authorities, as well as improvements in troop and police equipment levels, were needed so the Mission could operate close to its full potential.
On the political front, he said in the run-up to the International Donor Conference for Reconstruction and Development in Darfur, on 7-8 April, internally displaced persons had launched peaceful protests in Kalma and d’Hassa Hissa camps, in South and Central Darfur. They spoke of insecurity, unresolved land disputes and the predominance of armed militias as reasons why they opposed the Doha Conference. Nonetheless, participants at the Conference expressed support for the Darfur development strategy, pledging $3.7 billion. The total missed the goal of $7.2 billion they had hoped to raise for the six-year development strategy.
As for the adoption of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur by the Justice and Equality Movement, led by Mohamed Bashar, he said hostilities had broken out between them and forces loyal to Jibril Ibrahim, near Darma, northeast of El Geneina on 18 April. UNAMID was looking for the cause of clashes. On 24 April, the Movement announced it would immediately withdraw from the Government, over delays in the implementation of the Doha Document and the expulsion from Sudan of the International Republican Institution earlier that day, a non-governmental group providing capacity-building and technical assistance to the Justice and Equality Movement to support its transition into a political party. High-level negotiations between the National Congress Party and the Justice and Equality Movement were ongoing.
The Doha Document was finalized at the All Darfur Stakeholders Conference in May 2011, in Doha, Qatar. On 14 July 2011, the Sudanese Government and the Liberation and Justice Movement signed a protocol agreement committing themselves to the Document, which now serves as the framework for the comprehensive peace process in Darfur.
Regarding the security climate, he said intensified conflict in Darfur, due to both military and inter-community standoffs, was a serious concern. Clashes had displaced more than 200,000 people, including 24,000 to Chad — more than last year’s total. The Government and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction led by Minni Minawi had clashed in East and South Darfur, with the latter taking control of Ishma village, South Darfur, on 6 April, and displacing some 33,000 people around the UNAMID bases of Muhajeria and Labado. On 16 April, Sudanese army and air operations regained control of Muhajeria and Labado, he said, but sporadic clashes between the Government and the SLA–Minawi faction continued in Marla, South Darfur.
Turning to inter-communal violence in Darfur, which had involved “well-armed” militias, he said that on 3 April, an attempted armed robbery had triggered clashes between militias drawn mainly from the Misseriya and Salamat tribes in Um Dukhun, Central Darfur. Fighting had spread eastwards, between 6 and 17 April, to Rehed El Birdi, in South Darfur, and northwards to Darley, in Central Darfur. Community sources estimated that upwards of 68 people had been killed and 60 injured in the clashes.
Sudanese authorities had deployed security forces to defuse tensions and formed a committee of Government and traditional community leaders to mediate, he explained, efforts that had led to a 10 April agreement to cease hostilities. Intermittent fighting continued, however, and a second reconciliation conference was scheduled for tomorrow. Against that backdrop, the Government had replaced the incumbent Governors of South and East Darfur. While the outgoing Governor of East Darfur was said to be in poor health, no explanation had been given for the decision to replace the Governor of South Darfur.
More broadly, he said movement restrictions and other obstructions imposed by the belligerent parties continued to hamper UNAMID operations, with Government security forces forcibly preventing UNAMID helicopters carrying local officials not on the flight manifest from departing Shangil Tobaya and Afaf Umra earlier this month. As for visa issuances, he said authorities on 3 April had issued 401 new entry visas for UNAMID civilian police. As of 25 April, 858 visas remained outstanding, including 533 for civilian police. The tripartite coordination mechanism involving the African Union, the United Nations and Sudan had met in Addis Ababa on 15 April, with participants agreeing to review the validity of outstanding visa requests submitted in 2011 and 2012.
Following his remarks, Mr. Osman said tribal conflicts over the region’s natural resources in March had indeed displaced many citizens. But, the situation had been contained, and days after the incident, reconciliation meetings had taken place, as had a conference to solve the problem of the internally displaced persons. Also just yesterday, Government forces had taken control of the base that SLA-Minawi faction had used to attack Nyala and cut off trade routes.
Moreover, two weeks ago, the Head of the Darfur Regional Authority, Tijani el-Sissi, had met with the Secretary-General in New York, as well as Council members, briefing them on positive developments since the Authority had begun its institution-building process, he said. Describing the Doha donor conference as “successful”, he expected that pledges made would assist Darfur in its reconstruction and development efforts.
On the security front, he said rebel groups were now targeting civilian areas outside Darfur, since most of their activities had been contained by the Sudanese army. Two days ago, they had attacked the city of Um Rawaba, outside Darfur, along with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM), destroying electric power stations, fuel depots, markets and banks before fleeing.
“This confirms that the remnants of the rebel groups in Darfur are nothing more than outlaws with no cause,” he said. They had refused to participate in the peace process and were led by “warlords”, who had admitted they were targeting civilians in order to terrify peaceful communities outside Darfur. That fact must be taken into account when examining the situation.
As for the attack against UNAMID, he said it represented a shortcoming in the Mission’s performance, as UNAMID forces had surrendered their weapons and vehicles “quite easily” to the rebels. In contrast, the Sudanese Government was exerting all efforts to find and prosecute the perpetrators. “We hope that those in charge of UNAMID will also carry out their duties in confronting any attack they face by these rebel groups.”
The Secretary-General’s report had highlighted “noticeable” progress in the implementation of the Doha Document, he said, and had reaffirmed that Sudan had transferred the funds allocated to the Darfur Regional Authority, the most recent of which was for $165 million. At the donor conference, the $3.6 billion in pledges included $2 billion by Sudan, which augured well for the implementation of the Joint Assessment Mission’s time-bound, six-year strategy for Darfur’s reconstruction and development. “The beginning has been very promising,” he said, urging all to participate.
Turning to justice and accountability, he said the Special Prosecutor’s investigation continued, noting that the El Fasher General Court had issued death sentences against six soldiers accused of killing a community leader in Abu Zereiga. There were several cases under the Special Prosecutor’s consideration, including militia attacks against internally displaced persons in camps in Kutum. “Marshall justice continues in Darfur,” he said.
Regarding constraints on UNAMID, he said the Government — in limited instances — had preferred that UNAMID forces did not enter areas where it would confront “real danger”, as experience had shown they reacted passively in the face of attack, fleeing the scene and leaving behind their weapons and vehicles for the rebels. That had been the case a month ago, when UNAMID had escorted civilians to participate in a conference for internally displaced persons. UNAMID forces had even handed over civilians to the rebels. “These are details Mr. Ladsous knows very, very well,” he asserted.
On the question of visas, he said that in his 7 April meeting with Mr. Ladsous, he had explained that a high committee had been created — under the President’s direction — to expedite visa issuance. A total of 644 visas had been requested and the Government had issued 412; some 200 were pending, an example of the cooperation between the Government and UNAMID on that question.
In closing, he described the 27 April attack on Umm Rawaba as “despicable”, saying that the SPLM and rebel groups led by Abdel Wahid and Minni Minawi had used 100 armed vehicles to rob the village’s eight banks, all its markets, and destroy the water and power stations. “Are these people really interested in development and reconstruction in Sudan?”, he asked. Whatever conflict remained in Darfur, it was now limited to narrow reasons, if compared to events in 2003. He urged the Council to enforce sanctions against rebels who rejected peace.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and adjourned at 10:46 a.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record