The situation in Sudan’s Darfur region is marked by limited progress in the peace process, a troubling security situation and the continued need for substantial humanitarian assistance, officials representing the United Nations and the African Union told the Security Council today.
“The security situation in Darfur and threats to UNAMID and humanitarian personnel continue to be a serious concern,” said Joint Special Representative Mohammed Ibn Chambas, who is also head of the joint African Union-UN peacekeeping operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
Further complicating the situation are the inter-tribal conflicts that continue to plague the region and have led to a large number of civilian casualties, mass displacement and attendant humanitarian tragedy, he said.
While UNAMID continued to facilitate the delivery of relief assistance by humanitarian actors to affected communities, instances of denial of access and restriction of movement, as well as bureaucratic impediments remain a challenge that negatively impacts this effort, said Mr. Chambas, who briefed the 15-member body via videoconference from Khartoum.
In his latest report to the Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that the predominant source of the “grave” insecurity affecting several parts of Darfur is currently intercommunal fighting.
“Such fighting has constrained access, led to the destruction of property and diverted resources and attention away from recovery, reconstruction and development. The clashes have tended to be triggered by minor incidents and altercations,” he wrote. “However, they have been exacerbated and fuelled by underlying disputes over access to land and other natural resources, as well as a lack of access to effective dispute resolution mechanisms.
“Their intensity and dire impact on the civilian population, which has included the displacement of 166,000 people in the past three months, have been heightened by the prevalence of arms and the participation of militias fighting in support of their tribal affiliates,” Mr. Ban added.
Regarding the peace process, Mr. Chambas reported that he remains engaged with the movements that have yet to sign the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) – which forms the basis for a permanent ceasefire and comprehensive peace agreement to end the fighting – in an attempt to find common ground for advancing the peace process.
The Sudanese Government and two major rebel groups have committed to the DDPD so far. The Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) signed on last year; the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) signed a framework agreement in January 2013.
Mr. Chambas said the realization of the agreement between the Government and JEM-Bashar is yet to gain traction. In his consultations with the leaders of JEM-Gibril and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi, the movements reiterated their commitment to peace and a negotiated political settlement in Darfur in the context of a holistic solution to Sudan’s problems.
Also briefing the Council was Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous, who noted that in addition to presenting safety and security challenges for UNAMID and aid personnel, the intensification of conflict has increased the need for protection and humanitarian assistance among the civilian population.
Civilian protection is a core mandate for UNAMID, which was established by the Security Council five years ago to help stem the suffering in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have died since 2003 due to fighting between rebel groups and Government forces and their allies, militiamen known as the Janjaweed.
Mr. Ladsous said efforts are ongoing with troop- and police-contributing countries to ensure the uniformed personnel deployed to Darfur are “properly equipped, trained and prepared” to operate in the very challenging security environment.
To ensure that the mission has the resources, configuration and procedures it needs, the UN has begun a review of UNAMID, in consultation with the AU, the results of which are expected in February.
“Despite the very challenging circumstances, UNAMID remains resolute in its commitment to provide much needed protection to civilians, facilitate the delivery of aid and provide support to the peace process,” said Mr. Ladsous.