|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7010th Meeting (AM)
Following Spate of Attacks on UN Peacekeepers in Darfur, Threat Assessment Plans,
More Nimble Response to Emerging Concerns being Developed, Security Council Told
Joint Special Representative Signals Need for ‘Common Vision’,
As Delegate Calls for Development Aid, Closer Coordination with Government
On the heels of a fourth attack against peacekeepers in recent months and amid a recent uptick in violence, “much more remains to be done” to end the political and ethnic hostilities in Darfur, the top United Nations-African Union official there told the Security Council today.
The tragic attack on 13 July ‑ which killed seven Tanzanian peacekeepers and wounded 17 others ‑ underscored that the security situation in that beleaguered western Sudan region remained volatile, said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur.
Introducing the latest report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document S/2013/420) and noting that 2013 marked 10 years since the outbreak of the Darfur conflict, he said that, while considerable progress had been made to bring down the initially great casualty numbers and to craft a peace process, more work was needed.
Since the beginning of the year, he said, fighting between the Government of Sudan and non-signatory movements on the one the hand, and inter- and intra-ethnic clashes on the other, had led to loss of life, protracted displacement and socioeconomic dislocation for civilians caught in the crossfire.
Moreover, he told the 15-member body, the steady upsurge in inter-ethnic violence throughout the Darfur States in the first half of 2013 was very worrying, and reflected the growing tensions over access to and control of land, water and mineral resources. The increased militarization and proliferation of arms among civilians, accompanied by deteriorating humanitarian conditions for host and displaced populations, had brought about more death, injury and displacement.
In that context, he said that UNAMID strongly encouraged all parties to the inter-ethnic conflicts, and relevant civil society actors, to enter into dialogue, with a view to addressing the root causes of the clashes and developing a common vision for their resolution.
In light of the recent attacks, he went on, questions had been raised about the Hybrid Operation’s troop strength and effectiveness. He believed UNAMID had the troop numbers needed to implement its mandate, but that “what is required is better training and equipment and more flexibility within our current deployment”.
UNAMID was working to develop a quarterly threat assessment process and the flexibility to re-deploy personnel within the mission to address areas of new and emerging concern, he said. In that regard, he welcomed the news that troop deployments would now be extended from six months to one year, allowing the mission to benefit from personnel more familiar with conditions on the ground.
“As we enter the tenth year in the conflict in Darfur, it is evident that the only solution to the conflict will be a political one,” he said, adding that the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur ‑ finalized in 2011 in Qatar ‑ represented the most viable path to sustainable peace and development.
The signatory parties continued to work towards its implementation, however, at an “unacceptably slow pace”, in particular, in the area of ceasefire and final security arrangements, he said. Honouring the pledges made at the April Doha Donors Conference in a timely manner would help to change the dynamic on the ground, as Darfur Development Strategy projects were aimed at improving the living conditions of affected populations and creating an environment conducive to peace.
He went on to describe the killing of Mohammed Bashar, the leader of a faction of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), who had recently agreed to cease hostilities and join the Doha agreement. His death was seen as an attack against the peace process, and threatened to cause serious damage to its progress.
Indeed, that tragic event had led to a re-evaluation of the current direction of mediation efforts, he added, noting that the peace process today remained incomplete without the inclusion of major armed movements such as the SLM/Minni Minawi, the SLM/Abdul Wahid and the JEM/Gibril Ibrahim. Engagements with regional leaders were aimed at persuading such non-signatories to renounce violence and come to the negotiating table without preconditions.
In that vein, he said that the parties to the conflict who had courageously embraced the path of peace, in particular by joining the Doha Accord, should be encouraged and protected, while those groups still “holding out” should be persuaded to start peace talks with the Government without conditions.
Following that briefing, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman ( Sudan) strongly condemned the attacks on UNAMID and stressed the need to bring the perpetrators to justice. Earlier today, he had spoken with the Special Prosecutor for War Crimes in Darfur, who indicated that he was in touch with UNAMID officials regarding the matter. In that context, Mr. Osman stressed the importance of closer coordination between his Government and UNAMID.
“The intention is not to restrict the movement of the mission,” he said. Rather, it was to help it ward off attacks from rebel groups. He commended the Special Representative for his efforts to convince “movements that rejected peace” to join the peace process, and stressed the important role of States in the region to lend support by not sheltering any such movements.
The reference in the Secretary-General’s report to tribal clashes in Darfur over water, pasture land and other natural resources illustrated the need for development in the region, he went on. In that vein, he acknowledged the central Government’s efforts, in coordination with the National Darfur Authority, to promote harmony among the various tribes
At the same time, he noted the significant gap between the call in the Darfur Development Strategy for $7.2 million ‑ in line with the findings of the joint assessment mission ‑ and pledges totalling just $3.6 million. In closing, he stressed his Government’s strong resolve to achieve a settlement to the conflict.
The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and was adjourned at 10:40 a.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record