|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7048th Meeting (AM)
Attacks on Darfur Peacekeepers, Humanitarian Staff Cause of Deep Concern,
UNAMID Head Tells Security Council
Members Also Hear from Peacekeeping Chief, Sudan’s Permanent Representative
Expressing serious concern at the recent spate of attacks on peacekeepers and humanitarian personnel in Darfur, the top African Union-United Nations official there urged the Government of Sudan to do more to bring the perpetrators to justice and end restrictions on the delivery of relief assistance.
Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative for Darfur and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), briefing the Council from Khartoum on the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2013/607), said a Zambian peacekeeper and three members of a Senegalese formed police unit had been killed in separate attacks, prompting condemnation from the Council and the African Union.
An already serious security and humanitarian situation had been further complicated by inter-communal conflicts that continued to plague the region, he added. Fighting between armed groups in East, Central and North Darfur had led to a large number of civilian casualties, mass displacement and attendant humanitarian tragedy.
UNAMID worked closely with regional States and local authorities to bring about reconciliation between the conflicting groups, he continued. “Although a number of agreements on the cessation of hostilities have been reached, the situation remains fragile.” The Hybrid Operation continued to facilitate delivery of relief aid, but denial of access, restrictions on movement and bureaucratic impediments remained a challenge.
Turning to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, he recalled that the Implementation Follow-up Commission had expressed concern at the overall slow pace of the peace process. The signatory parties had been concentrating on developing institutional mechanisms for the implementation of the Darfur Development Strategy. Public tenders for 1,017 development projects totalling $82.5 million in the areas of education, health and water had been launched.
On the Darfur Internal Dialogue and Consultations, designed to complement the peace process, he said UNAMID had shared with the other facilitators a draft concept on the conduct of the dialogue and a communication strategy. The facilitators would agree on a schedule during a meeting in November.
There had been progress, albeit limited, on land ownership, and proportionate participation of Darfuris in the civil and judicial services, but no serious steps with the permanent ceasefire and final security arrangements. Realization of the agreement the Government of Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM-Bashar) had signed in April was yet to gain traction, he said.
Mr. Chambas told the Council that he remained engaged with non-signatory movements to find common ground for advancing the peace process. They reiterated their commitment to peace and a negotiated political settlement in Darfur in the context of a holistic solution to Sudan’s problems. Government officials, welcoming his engagement, maintained that any dialogue should be based on the Doha Document. They indicated their openness to the participation of non-signatory movements in a national dialogue. Being explored was the possibility of a follow-up meeting in the form of a workshop focusing on a comprehensive peace.
With regard to UNAMID operations, he said reductions in the Operation’s overall troop and police strengths were on track for completion, as part of the outcome of the review of UNAMID uniformed personnel. In August, a team from the United Nations Secretariat undertook a review of civilian staffing requirements in line with General Assembly resolution 66/264 (2012). The findings would be reflected in the report of the comprehensive review of UNAMID as requested by the Security Council, he added.
Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the Secretary-General’s latest report outlined limited progress in the peace process, describing both a “troubling” security situation and the need for substantial humanitarian assistance. He called on Sudan to swiftly identify and hold accountable those responsible for the “disturbing” increase in attacks against UNAMID and humanitarian personnel. He welcomed the African Union Peace and Security Council’s call for the Sudanese Government to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice and its decision to review the situation within one month and receive an update on steps taken.
For its part, his Office was working with troop-contributing countries to ensure that personnel were properly equipped and trained for the complex security environment. He said it also was addressing serviceability shortfalls and coordinating with countries that were readying new troops for deployment to Darfur. Such work involved preparations to deploy three infantry battalions to replace those that had been or were to soon be withdrawn. UNAMID’s configuration and procedures must address those issues.
With that in mind, his Office and the African Union were carrying out a review of the Hybrid Operation, as requested in resolution 2113 (2013) — a process which included an analysis, compatibility review phase, recommendations and options for improving effectiveness, and a presentation of findings to the Council. Specifically, the document would include an update on the causes, actors and projected trends of the conflict in Darfur. A senior assessment mission would be in the area in late November and early December, and he expected the findings to be presented in early February.
Despite the challenges, UNAMID was “resolute” in providing protection to civilians, he said, and facilitating aid delivery and progress in the peace process. It would work to ensure that peacekeepers were able to carry out their mandate in a robust and effective manner. The Council’s continued support — including for reaching an inclusive settlement to the conflict — was most welcome.
The permanent representative of Sudan said the displacement and killing of civilians and peacekeepers by rebels was a major source of concern for his Government, much more so than for other parties. He hoped all efforts would assist Sudan in its work to end the conflict in Darfur and to re-establish peace and prosperity. Condemning the incident that killed one Zambian and three Senegalese peacekeepers, he reiterated his condolences to those Governments and noted that Sudanese Armed Forces also had fallen as a result of that incident. Such events demonstrated his Government’s commitment to deal with acts perpetrated by armed movements.
In a similar vein, he expected UNAMID to fully shoulder its role, as it was comprised of military personnel. Their inability to defend and protect themselves against that attack, and to shoulder other tasks, had led to many questions. He questioned how the Hybrid Operation could remain in the area “doing nothing”, requiring the Sudanese Armed Forces to intervene to protect them.
He said he appreciated all efforts being taken to persuade those who had refused to join the peace process to do so. He urged the Council to ensure that the Joint Special Representative’s efforts were successful, also calling on influential countries to encourage parties to come to the negotiating table.
He said cooperation between the Sudanese Government and the Hybrid Operation had made a “considerable” step forward in terms of granting visas. Mr. Ladsous had raised the issue in his meeting last month with the Sudanese Minister of the Interior and the Minister for Justice, who was himself from Darfur. Those officials had affirmed his country’s commitment to helping UNAMID carry out its work in a most effective manner. On the implementation of the Doha Document, he said priority was being given to the development strategy enshrined at the April 2013 donor conference.
Turning to the report, he said the Sudanese justice system was qualified to make rulings on the cases outlined in paragraph 7. During the Justice Minister’s recent visit to New York, the Deputy Secretary-General had praised his efforts to combat impunity and lift the immunity enjoyed by some people. Sudan also was making inquiries so as to bring to justice those involved in the attacks against UNAMID.
He reassured the Council that the inter-communal violence cited in the report had been contained and that Sudan was cooperating with all influential regional parties to promote reconciliation among various communities. He attributed the Doha Document as having led to a drop in violations of the rights to life and physical integrity and a decrease in sexual and gender-based violence. In sum, he urged the Council to exert firm pressure on non-signatory movements to join the peace process.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 10:42 a.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record