WESTERN DARFUR ON VERGE OF ABYSS, UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS WARNS SECURITY COUNCIL IN BRIEFING FOLLOWING RECENT VISIT TO DARFUR, UGANDA
WESTERN DARFUR ON VERGE OF ABYSS, UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS WARNS SECURITY COUNCIL IN BRIEFING FOLLOWING RECENT VISIT TO DARFUR, UGANDA
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5571st Meeting (AM)
WESTERN DARFUR ON VERGE OF ABYSS, UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS
WARNS SECURITY COUNCIL IN BRIEFING FOLLOWING RECENT VISIT TO DARFUR, UGANDA
For More Than 1,000 Days, Nights, Darfur’s Defenceless Civilians
Fear for Lives; Sudanese Government’s Failure to Protect Is ‘Shameful’
With a volatile mix of Government forces, militias, rebels and armed opposition groups from Chad roaming freely throughout much of the Sudan’s western Darfur spreading fear and terror, the United Nations top humanitarian official warned the Security Council that war-torn western Darfur was close to the abyss, and suggested that faster progress in the peace process could be made if those negotiating in hotels in big cities did so in the refugee camps, accompanied by their wives and children.
Briefing the Council on his recent visits to Darfur and northern Uganda, Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said “for more than a thousand days and a thousand nights, the defenceless civilians of Darfur have been in fear for their lives, and the lives of their children. The Government’s failure to protect its own citizens even in areas where there are no rebels, has been shameful and continues. So does our own failure, more than a year after world leaders in this very building pledged their own responsibility to protect civilians where the Government manifestly fails to do so.”
Painting a dire picture of the situation in Darfur, he said there was a need to immediately stop all attacks before an entire generation of young men was enlisted in the fighting. The rampant insecurity, proliferation of arms, and banditry on roads had taken its toll on the delivery capacity of an increasingly beleaguered humanitarian community. Humanitarian workers were being harassed, attacked, and even killed. If that trend continued, he said, “we will see a dramatic escalation of human suffering and loss of life beyond anything we have witnessed so far”, reminding the Council that he had been blocked by Sudanese national security from going to four out of six previously agreed locations.
Referring to an agreement reached in Addis Ababa regarding a hybrid United Nations/African Union peacekeeping mission, he said that hopefully that agreement could mark a historic turning point, but he feared that time was now lost in talks on the intricacies of the accord, rather than focused on the immediate deployment of a more effective force with a more proactive mandate. Everyone knew that it might take months for the forces to be deployed. “And the Darfurians cannot wait another day,” he stressed.
Turning to the Juba peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), he said that, except for small incidents, the cessation of hostilities had been respected, allowing hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons to start returning to northern Uganda. He had met with Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA and had urged him to move towards a speedy end to the conflict and to ensure the reassembly of the LRA forces in the agreed areas, as well as to release abducted women and children.
He said the Juba peace process was the best hope ever to bring the cruel conflict to an end. The admirable efforts of the mediation led by the Government of South Sudan should be supported, among other things, by continued funding of that mediation and the ceasefire monitoring through the Juba Initiative project, led by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Continued United Nations political assistance to the mediation was necessary. There was also a need for immediate assistance to the assembly areas to make the current stand-down attractive.
In the ensuing debate, the representative of the United Kingdom, echoed by other speakers, said that, while she was ready to welcome the agreement reached last week in Addis Ababa, she was mystified as to why events on the ground seemed to be moving backwards. It was hard to comprehend why fighting continued in North Darfur, given that everyone around the table wanted to see the conflict end.
Other speakers stressed that easing the humanitarian situation depended on progress in both the peace process and the security situation. The Council was obligated to revisit previous resolutions on the situation and to create a new consensus to revive the peace process, they urged.
Noting that the delivery of humanitarian assistance must be addressed urgently, Ghana’s representative said it was a strange situation where those who were engaged in trafficking arms and committing war crimes enjoyed more freedom of movement than those engaged in saving lives. As Mr. Egeland had emphasized, the time to avoid disaster in Darfur was limited, and it was up to the Council to give an appropriate response.
Drawing attention to the regional aspect of the conflict, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said the security of the internally displaced persons’ camps in Darfur and Chad required special attention. There was the risk of the parties seeking bases in the refugee and internally displaced persons camps, further exacerbating the already tense situation between the Sudan and Chad, and the Sudan and the Central African Republic.
On the situation in Northern Uganda, Argentina’s representative, while stressing that the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda must increase efforts to put an end to the long and atrocious conflict and respect the ceasefire, said that the LRA should immediately release women, children and non-combatants. He underlined that accountability was fundamental to conciliation; peace could not be achieved at the cost of justice.
Other speakers, while voicing support for the need for accountability and the independence of the International Criminal Court, urged implementation of Mr. Egeland’s recommendations, in particular the one concerning the provision of support for the ongoing negotiations, including financial support. They also sought the immediate release of non-combatants, including women and children, by the LRA, as well as implementation by the Ugandan Government of its Recovery and Development Plan for northern Uganda.
The representatives of Congo, Denmark, United States, Japan, France, Greece, Slovakia, China, Qatar, Russian Federation and Peru also spoke. Mr. Egeland made concluding remarks.
The meeting began at 10:45 a.m. and adjourned at 12:40 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Africa.
Briefing by Under-Secretary-General
JAN EGELAND, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said he had just concluded his fourth and final mission to Darfur and had returned with a plea from beleaguered Darfurians for immediate action to finally stop the atrocities against them. “For more than a thousand days and a thousand nights, the defenceless civilians of Darfur have been in fear for their lives, and the lives of the children. The Government’s failure to protect its own citizens even in areas where there are no rebels, has been shameful and continues. So does our own failure, more than a year after world leaders in this very building pledged their own responsibility to protect civilians where the Government manifestly fails to do so,” he said.
He said 4 million people, two thirds of Darfur’s population, were in need of emergency assistance. The number of internally displaced persons had risen to an unprecedented 2 million. The attacks on villages and the displacement of tens of thousands of civilians continued, reaching the horrific levels of early 2004. The achievements of 14,000 Sudanese and international aid workers in Darfur, the world’s largest humanitarian operation, were nothing less than heroic. Against all odds, relief had been delivered to most of the affected, until recently.
All of that was now at risk, he said. Militia attacks and banditry had rendered more than 95 per cent of all roads in West Darfur “no-go” areas and an increasing number of camps were cut off from adequate and reliable assistance. Large new militias were being armed. The youngest and most reckless received weapons. Government forces, militias, a plethora of rebel groups, and an increasing number of Chadian armed opposition groups roamed around freely inside and outside the camps. New displacement was fuelled by cross-border raids of armed groups. All of that was happening with total impunity. “Large parts of Darfur are seeing a meltdown of law and order,” he warned.
There was a need to immediately stop all attacks, and for the cessation of hostilities and respect for the ceasefire by all parties before an entire generation of young men was enlisted in the fighting, he urged. Villages, camps and communities outside the urban centres of Darfur were again being burnt and looted. Women and children were raped and killed with impunity. Two massive military operations had started in the Jebel Marra and Biramza area in North Darfur. In the Jebel Marra, where the nights were freezing, the attackers had looted food, clothing and blankets. That meant that babies and small children who survived the attacks might now freeze to death. “Let us be clear: these acts are crimes of the most despicable kind. They are an affront to humanity,” he stressed.
There was also a need for immediate and lasting implementation of all freedom of movement guarantees afforded by the Government of the Sudan, in both the July 2004 moratorium on restrictions for humanitarian work in Darfur, the Status of Mission Agreement, and the Darfur Peace Agreement. The rampant insecurity, proliferation of arms, and banditry on roads had taken its toll on the delivery capacity of an increasingly beleaguered humanitarian community. Humanitarian workers were being harassed, attacked, and even killed. If that trend continued, and the humanitarian operation faltered, the situation in Darfur would spiral out of control. “We will see a dramatic escalation of human suffering and loss of life beyond anything we have witnessed so far,” he said.
It was not only the insecurity that threatened the humanitarian operations; it was also the wall of administrative obstacles that the Government had built, he went on. “A quicksand of endless bureaucratic obstacles consumes 70 per cent of the time of many humanitarian managers,” he said. Non-governmental organizations and United States aid workers were particularly targeted. The United States had been the largest donor to the humanitarian operations in Darfur. Now, 26 of the 40 American non-governmental organization workers had been blocked from doing their relief work. The same was true for journalists. Journalists had been detained, threatened with expulsion and harassed by a multitude of Government authorities, particularly national security personnel. The expulsion of the Norwegian Refugee Council and its treatment should be protested by the Council and by its representatives in Khartoum.
He said that he had been blocked by Sudanese national security from going to four out of six previously agreed locations. Each time he had travelled to Sudan, he had hoped to see a fundamental change in the attitude of the Government, characterized by denial, neglect and the blaming of others. However, such a change had not taken place. Senior Government officials denied the killings, the displacements and the rape of women. His message to the Government was: “help us to help your people”. Welcoming verbal indications that the moratorium would be extended beyond the end of the year, he said the extension had yet to be formally announced. He had agreed with the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs to convene an in-depth review of working conditions for humanitarian organizations.
“The next weeks may be make or break for our lifeline to more than 3 million people,” he said. “This period may well be the last opportunity for this Council, the Government of the Sudan, the African Union, the rebels, and all of us to avert a humanitarian disaster of much larger proportions than even the one we so far have witnessed in Darfur.” He hoped that agreements reached in Addis Ababa could mark a historic turning point. The Secretary-General would brief on that agreement later. The fear was that time was now lost in talks on the intricacies of the African Union/United Nations partnership, rather than the immediate deployment of a more effective force with a more proactive mandate. All knew that it might take months for the forces to be deployed. “And the Darfurians can not wait another day. We need the attacks to stop now,” he said.
Turning to the Juba peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), he said that, except for small incidents, the cessation of hostilities had been respected, allowing hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons to start returning to Northern Uganda. He was struck, however, by the vulnerability of the peace process. He had met with Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA, and other commanders. He had urged Mr. Kony to move towards a speedy end to the conflict and to ensure the reassembly of the LRA forces in the agreed areas. The demand had been reiterated that the LRA release abducted women and children and allow the wounded and sick to go to hospital. The issue of the International Criminal Court had only been marginally raised by them. He said he had emphasized the independence of the Court and that peace could not take place without justice.
He said that, this morning, he had been told that the LRA was in the process of reassembling and had agreed to revert on the issue of releasing non-combatants into Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) care. He was struck by the continued paranoia among the senior LRA leadership. It was critical to build confidence in the LRA through regular face-to-face meetings. He had debriefed President Yoweri Museveni on his meeting with the LRA leadership and had urged him to give the peace talks more time, and to assist the process by withdrawing troops from positions that would make it more difficult for the LRA to assemble. President Museveni had emphasized that the peace talks should not be an endless businesslike negotiation, and that all LRA must move into the two agreed assembly areas for the ceasefire to be lasting.
He said the Juba peace process was the best hope ever to bring the cruel conflict to an end. The admirable efforts of the mediation led by the Government of South Sudan should be supported, among other things, by continued funding of that mediation and the ceasefire monitoring through the OCHA-led Juba Initiative project. Continued United Nations political assistance to the mediation was necessary. There was also a need for immediate assistance to the assembly areas to make the current stand-down attractive.
KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) said she was both horrified by the description of the events in the camp and mystified by the connection between events on the ground and the political process in Addis Ababa. While she was ready to welcome the agreement reached last week and congratulate the Secretary-General and Mr. Konaré on their efforts, she looked forward to hearing more this afternoon on why events on the ground seemed to be moving backwards, while the political process seemed to be moving forwards. Thursday’s breakthrough was fragile and more elaboration was needed from the Sudan’s Government. The United Kingdom looked forward to the African Union’s leaders’ meeting, which she hoped would result in concrete measures.
She said that it was hard to comprehend, given that everyone around the table wanted to see the conflict end, why fighting continued in North Darfur. She urged all sides to abide by the ceasefire. On the restrictions the Under-Secretary-General had experienced first-hand, she noted the assurances from the Government to extend the non-governmental organization visa moratorium to 2007 and urged the Government to deliver on its promises. She also shared the concern expressed about the conflict’s impact on the wider region.
Regarding northern Uganda, she said she was grateful for the Under-Secretary-General’s efforts to bring the humanitarian crisis to the world’s attention. The living conditions for the people caught up in that crisis remained dire, with some signs of improvement. Extra efforts were needed to unblock the problems on the ground, and follow-up was needed to the presidential statement adopted by the Council last week on the cessation of hostilities. She welcomed the support of the United Nations’ family of the process. She also noted the work by Uganda’s Government to address the humanitarian situation in the north.
PASCAL GAYAMA ( Congo) thanked the Under-Secretary-General for the first-hand information he had provided and for his efforts in the quest for solutions, which should be a source of inspiration for all. The humanitarian situation was obviously sombre. The most optimistic assessments seemed to be below the reality on the ground. He agreed that there seemed to be a disconnect between political and diplomatic optimisms and the real situation as experienced by displaced persons and refugees, who were the daily victims of violence, the motivations of which remained unknown.
On Uganda and the LRA, he noted that there had been a significant breakthrough with the achievement of the ceasefire agreement, which was a good sign for peace and security, regionally. He expected that commitments by the different actors would be translated into concrete actions. The humanitarian questions regarding women, children and non-combatants were in the hands of the LRA, and he hoped the situation would be settled, once and for all.
He said his delegation was concerned by what was happening in Darfur. Eastern Chad, which already had some 200,000 Sudanese refugees, was also affected. Non-governmental organization and humanitarian workers, who were treated as persona non grata, were paying a heavy price. They not only required the opportunity to carry out their mission, but also needed to be able to move throughout the region without restrictions. The ceasefire must be complied with and the peace agreements implemented, if not comprehensively, then at least, gradually.
The 16 November meeting in Addis Ababa, in which the United Nations Secretary-General had participated, had resulted in the decision to establish a joint force, in order to intervene in Darfur, he said. The international community’s strong and increased presence was needed. The African Union was still trying to convince the Sudan’s Government to join in the efforts that regional African communities were endeavouring to put together. He hoped that the Sudan’s Government would give its consent, making it possible to give substance to the conclusions that might be reached by the United Nations and the African Union. Hopefully, with political and diplomatic efforts, the heavy toll paid by innocent civilians would begin to be mitigated.
CÉSAR MAYORAL ( Argentina) said he was encouraged to hear a positive assessment of the situation in northern Uganda and the activities of the LRA. However, it was important to reiterate the message of Mr. Egeland that the parties must increase efforts to put an end to the long and atrocious conflict. They must respect the ceasefire and the LRA should immediately release women, children and non-combatants. He took note of Mr. Kony’s commitment to identify the sick and wounded. If the international community was to continue the process, it was necessary for the LRA to keep its word and for the Government to develop a plan for northern Uganda. Accountability was fundamental to conciliation; peace could not be achieved at the cost of justice.
As for Darfur, he said little could be added to the dark and sad picture. If the Government of the Sudan did not allow the Under-Secretary-General to visit certain areas of Darfur because of the security situation, he wondered what that meant for the security of millions of internally displaced persons that the Government was supposed to protect. Mr. Egeland had clearly defined the prevailing terror. Now, the international community must rise to the challenge. “We cannot allow for more civilians to be killed, hiding behind the pretext of legitimate self-defence,” he said. The Addis Ababa agreement might be the beginning of a new direction.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), underlining that the humanitarian situation in other parts of Africa also required the international community’s attention, said that, today, yet again, the conclusion had been that the situation facing civilians in Darfur was much the same as some three years ago, which was unacceptable. A robust and efficient international force on the ground was the only way forward. Welcoming the results of the meeting last week in Addis Ababa, she said the time between now and the meeting of the African Union on 29 November must be used to intensify efforts to clear up any issues standing in the way of the goal to protect the lives of civilians in Darfur.
Welcoming the cessation of hostilities agreement between Uganda and the LRA, she said the Juba peace talks were an opportunity to bring peace to a long and cruel conflict. She urged the parties to agree on a comprehensive settlement, as soon as possible. Although negotiations would be difficult, the international community should try everything to keep the talks alive by contributing to a conducive environment, including financially. To secure lasting peace, impunity must also be addressed. The Government of Uganda must find a solution to that delicate issue consistent with international law. The strong engagement of the United Nations would further stimulate progress in the peace process.
JACKIE WOLCOTT SANDERS ( United States) voiced support for the Juba peace process and welcomed the 1 November signing of the renewed Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. In 2006, the United States provided $71 million worth of assistance to address the humanitarian crisis, peace initiatives and rehabilitation and development needs in northern Uganda, much of it in the form of food aid. Other assistance focused on HIV/AIDS programmes, anti-malaria initiatives, education, training and improving agricultural productivity. Pending a successful agreement, support would also be given to reconstruction efforts. While pleased that the international community had begun taking the cluster approach to address the needs of internally displaced persons in that region, the United States believed that better coordination was needed among those involved.
Turning to the situation in Darfur, she said the United States continued to work closely with the United Nations, African Union and other partners to end the violence there, as well as to hold individuals accountable for atrocities committed and to ensure the delivery of humanitarian relief. Hopefully, the consensus reached at the 16 November meeting in Addis Ababa would lead to peace. So far, some $500 million in humanitarian assistance had been provided by the United States to affected populations in Darfur and to Sudanese refugees in Chad, with funds in place to respond effectively should the number of refugees and internally displaced persons increase dramatically. Support had also been given to non-governmental organizations and international organizations providing aid, ranging from foodstuffs to psychological assistance for victims of trauma. However, such aid was not enough -- an effective peacekeeping operation, as elaborated in Security Council resolution 1706 (2006), should be deployed, under United Nations command and control.
KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan) said he was seriously concerned by the continuation of the conflict and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur. Attacks on innocent civilians continued and a serious violation of international humanitarian law abounded. He urged all parties to ensure the protection of civilians, and recognized that the Addis Ababa meeting had marked an important step forward in building a cooperative relationship between the Government and the international community. He hoped an agreement on strengthened peacekeeping activity in Darfur would soon be obtained. He also hoped that the meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council this month would further advance a political solution in Darfur. The current situation, in which access was restricted and humanitarian assistance denied, was unacceptable.
He said that ensuring security was the first step towards effective humanitarian assistance. Efforts to improve the situation could not be separated from efforts on the political front. It was also important for non-signatories to accede to the Darfur Peace Agreement, and he urged all non-signatories to participate in the process. Japan would continue to work with the Government to help bring about prompt political agreement. His country would also give positive consideration to further humanitarian assistance to affected populations.
On northern Uganda, he commended the Under-Secretary-General for his endeavours in assisting the talks. Withdrawal of the Ugandan people’s defence force was a concrete outcome of efforts and he hoped that it would facilitate the cessation of hostilities between the Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Although progress was slow, he commended the persistent mediation efforts of the South Sudan Government. While it was difficult to be optimistic, more work was needed, in order not to lose the opportunity for peace. The Council should closely follow the situation. It was encouraging to hear that the security situation in northern Uganda had improved and that the return of internally displaced persons had accelerated. He also encouraged the United Nations to strengthen its support to activate the joint monitoring commission.
OLIVIER LACROIX ( France) noted that the humanitarian operation in Darfur was the largest operation in the world and that its needs were immense. Humanitarian workers must be supported, so that they could pursue their operations on the ground. Donors must not relax their efforts, as the return of displaced refugees would also require targeted assistance. He was also concerned at the deterioration of the situation in Darfur since September. The already tragic situation was becoming unsustainable due to the lack of security and the ongoing restrictions for humanitarian workers.
He said his delegation was pleased by progress made last week in Addis Ababa, as well as prospects for new dialogue on Darfur. The African Union and the United Nations were prepared to increase their efforts to restore peace to the region. The Council would have to ensure that the future peacekeeping presence would be able to contribute to securing the safety of the civilian population. He expected the Government to be diligent in carrying out the conclusions of the Addis Ababa meeting. The increased peacekeeping presence would only be effective, however, if the parties established a true ceasefire and resumed the peace process. Nor would the Darfur crisis be resolved unless regional implications were taken into consideration.
On Uganda and the LRA, he welcomed the ceasefire agreement between them and the mediation of South Sudan. The eyes of the international community were riveted on the two parties, which had to provide substance to the agreement. Regarding non-combatants and the situation of children, he called on Uganda’s Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army to cooperate with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He emphasized the need for the most serious crimes not to go unpunished; there would be no peace without justice.
ALEXANDRA PAPADOPOULOU (Greece) said the fact that Mr. Egeland had to cut short his visit to Darfur, as he had been denied access to some areas, illustrated the complications involved in delivering humanitarian assistance. Now was the time to act, in order to get access to people in need. Certain humanitarian organizations had been forced to suspend their activities. However, she welcomed the agreement reached between Mr. Egeland and the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs. The interpretations of what had been agreed and what had not in the Addis Ababa agreement must stop.
She said she supported the Juba peace talks, as they could bring an end to the long and brutal conflict. The meeting between Mr. Egeland and Mr. Kony had been a breakthrough, as it had been the first time that the international community had been able to impress on him the importance of access for humanitarian assistance. A way must be found to reconcile the need for peace with the need for ending impunity and respecting the International Criminal Court process. She commended the Government of Uganda for its Recovering and Development Plan for northern Uganda.
PETER BURIAN ( Slovakia) said he was deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur, including in the refugee camps in Darfur and Chad. He deplored the failure of the Government of the Sudan to protect its citizens. All necessary measures must be taken to stop the attacks before an entire generation of young man had been enlisted in the fighting. He called on the Government of the Sudan to remove bureaucratic obstacles for humanitarian work. Hopefully, the Government would understand that the engagement of the international community was in the best interest of all its citizens. The fast and robust response of the international community was needed to bring the peace process back on track. He welcomed the agreement on a hybrid United Nations/African Union mission reached in Addis Ababa.
Turning to Northern Uganda, he said he was encouraged by progress reached in the peace talks and in addressing the humanitarian situation on the ground. Active engagement by the international community was crucial and should ensure that the Juba peace talks would bring the conflict to an end. He would welcome regular updates by the Secretariat on developments in northern Uganda.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) noted that Mr. Egeland’s visit to northern Uganda and Darfur had increased the international community’s attention to the region. The Council should continue to pay attention to the situation in the two regions and strengthen its efforts to solve the problems there. The humanitarian, political and security questions were interrelated; the lack of a stable situation made it difficult to ease the humanitarian crisis. The proper solution to the question of the Lord’s Resistance Army would have a major impact on the situation in northern Uganda, as well as on the stability in the entire country. He welcomed the signing of the cessation of hostilities agreement last August, and expected to see the implementation of its provisions. He hoped the Ugandan Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army would quickly reach agreement on relevant political questions and promote peace talks, so as to achieve positive results.
He expressed concern at the humanitarian situation in Darfur and along the Darfur-Chad border. Easing the humanitarian situation depended on progress in both the peace process and the security situation. At present, an important consensus had been reached during the high-level dialogue in Addis Ababa. The African Union’s Peace and Security Council had also reached an important decision on solving the problems of Darfur. He hoped all parties would grasp the historic opportunities and solve the problem of Darfur.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) noted that many challenges remained and some situations had deteriorated. Government and military actions continued unabated, in some cases, with impunity. He reminded the Council that it had adopted in 2005 two important resolutions to facilitate the peace process in Abuja and the humanitarian work in Darfur. The Council was obligated to revisit those resolutions and create a new consensus to revive the peace process. While the Darfur peace process was far from perfect and the agreement not the best, it was the only framework for a multilateral solution.
He said that the Council should be mindful of the need to work closely with the African Union and to find ways to rescue the peace agreement. While the mandate of the African Union mission had been extended several times, its operational mandate had not been substantially revised. The security of the internally displaced persons camps in Darfur and Chad required special attention. There was the risk of the parties seeking bases in the refugee and internally displaced persons camps, further exacerbating the already tense situation between the Sudan and Chad, and the Sudan and the Central African Republic. It was important, therefore, attend to the regional dimension.
Noting that Mr. Egeland had succeeded in sensitizing the world to the situation in Darfur, he said the Council should support his initiatives. On the Juba peace talks, he hoped that Mr. Egeland would continue the dialogue. The process had come a long way, and the opportunity should not slip again. Peace and justice were needed. While impunity should not be allowed, the issues needed to be handled tactfully. The international community should work closely with the Government and all other stakeholders to address the situation in northern Uganda.
JAMAL NASSER AL-BADER ( Qatar) said it was regrettable to see the deterioration of the situation, in particular the impact that deterioration had on women and children, the most vulnerable groups. He hoped that the agreement reached in Addis Ababa between the African Union and the Government of the Sudan would make it possible for peace to reign in Darfur once again.
As for the peace process for northern Uganda, he underlined the importance of implementing Mr. Egeland’s recommendations, in particular the recommendation on providing support for the ongoing negotiations. Those negotiations were the cornerstone of the restoration of peace between the two parties. He thanked the Government of the Sudan for its efforts to act as a mediator.
ALBERT FRANCIS YANKEY ( Ghana), addressing the situation in northern Uganda, said that, without justice, there could be no lasting peace, stressing that the independence of the International Criminal Court should be upheld. As for the situation in Darfur, he said the delivery of humanitarian assistance must be addressed urgently. It was a strange situation where those who were engaged in trafficking arms and committing war crimes enjoyed more freedom of movement than those engaged in saving lives. Mr. Egeland had emphasized that the time to avoid a disaster in Darfur was limited, and it was up to the Council to give an appropriate response. He asked for up-to-date records of mortality rates in internally displaced persons camps.
KONSTANTIN K. DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) thanked the Under-Secretary-General for his briefing and for his management of humanitarian cooperation in very complex regions. He expected that United Nations humanitarian activity would continue. There was no doubt that the main reason for the unfortunate humanitarian situation was the fact that the conflicts remained unresolved. Progress towards a political settlement would positively impact the humanitarian situation in Darfur and northern Uganda. The agreements achieved needed to be implemented. The situation remained complicated and both the Sudan’s Government and all other parties must comply with their obligations in ensuring necessary access for humanitarian organizations and the safety of United Nations personnel. It was also important to ensure strict compliance by all parties with the ceasefire agreement. The current situation did not facilitate the advance of the political track. The momentum generated by the agreement in principle at Addis Ababa should have a positive effect on the work of international humanitarian agencies in Darfur and on the overall humanitarian situation.
On northern Uganda, he said he supported other Council members in noting the need for continuing the peace process with the successful mediation efforts of South Sudan. He was pleased to hear that Mr. Kony had made the appropriate pledges to pay due attention to humanitarian issues.
JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru), speaking in his national capacity, said he shared the Under-Secretary-General’s concern that the situation had worsened and that access to humanitarian assistance had grown increasingly difficult. It was urgent, therefore, for the Council to take an effective decision for protecting civilians by increasing dialogue, in order to end the crisis. To change the direction of events in Darfur, the Government of National Unity must accept the initiatives being discussed. It must also accept the deployment of a credible and significantly larger peacekeeping force, with a robust mandate.
Regarding the Juba process, he highlighted the ceasefire agreement and expressed the hope that the calm would continue in northern Uganda. He also thanked South Sudan for acting as mediator for the peace talks. The process should end the impunity for the serious crimes committed.
Addressing comments and questions, Mr. EGELAND said that, in northern Uganda, no one expected the talks to produce the kind of security improvements one would have hoped for, but the reality was that the security situation was now the best that it had been in half a generation. One of the three to four worst humanitarian situations of the decade could be called to an end. That was why it was important that continued attention and investment in the process remain a priority. It had to be made as attractive as possible for the Lord’s Resistance Army to stand down and start a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and as unattractive as possible for the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government to break the ceasefire. A renewed conflict would be worse than the former one.
Responding to Ghana’s question on Darfur, he said the most difficult figure to give was the number of people who had died. Estimates differed widely. One of the estimates put the number at approximately 10,000 per month. Within the camps, hugely successful humanitarian effort had been made, with the result that, in August, the mortality rate had been at 0.4 per thousand persons a day, or well below the mortality rates of 2004. However, since August, mortality and malnutrition had increased, as had the number of displacements, attacks and people killed. The number of refugees in Chad stood at around 230,000, but the number of internally displaced persons in Chad had grown by the tens of thousands. The situation was so bad in Eastern Chad that people had fled to Darfur.
He agreed with the representative of China that improvement in the humanitarian situation depended on progress on the peace front, saying that, if security deteriorated further, the whole humanitarian operation could falter, the most important message he had for the Council. The lifeline to 3 million people was in danger. He feared that lots of time would be lost before serious peace deals were made and before a force would be on the ground to protect the population.
He had spoken with women in the camp who had thanked him for food and water, but asked for security, he said, adding that humanitarian workers, African Union soldiers, or Government soldiers were there when the camps were attacked by armed groups. He suggested that those who decided on peace through negotiations that took place in hotels in big cities should negotiate further in the camps, bringing their wives and children with them. Maybe then, fast progress could be made.
He urged those who had any influence on the Government and the rebels -- Asian, Arab, African and donor countries -– to urge the parties to make concessions. There was a real disconnect between what he had seen during his visit and what had come out of meetings. The reality was that the situation had deteriorated in recent days. This time, it had to be different. People had to be made accountable for what they did or did not do. He agreed with the representative of the Russian Federation that the Government of the Sudan had a particular responsibility to protect its civilian population and that it was not living up to that.
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