|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6589th Meeting* (AM)
‘The Imperative for Peace Is Now as People of Darfur Have Suffered Too Long,
Too Deeply’, Stresses Senior United Nations Official to Security Council
Hailing 14 July Doha Document between Sudanese Government, Opposition, Says
Vital for Government, Hold-Out Movements to End Hostilities, Discuss Peace Accord
The United Nations top political official in Darfur this morning hailed last week’s signing of a road map for peace in Darfur by the Sudanese Government and the opposition Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), but warned today in a briefing to the Security Council that an enabling environment still must be created to ensure sustainable peace and stability in the strife-torn region.
“It is my view that many daunting challenges remain,” said Ibrahim Gambari, Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative for Darfur. Both parties had signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur on 14 July as a basis for reaching a permanent ceasefire and a comprehensive, inclusive peace settlement in Darfur, following a series of discussions on the matter during the All Darfur Stakeholders Conference held in late May, he said.
It was now crucial that the Government and hold-out movements, including the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA)-Abdul Wahid and SLA-Minni Minawi, agreed to cease hostilities and discuss in good faith a inclusive, comprehensive peace agreement, and that the political process towards that end was locally owned, credible, transparent and free, Mr. Gambari said.
Moreover, he said, that must take place in an environment that would guarantee legitimacy by ensuring that all participants had freedom of speech, movement and assembly, and were not subjected to harassment, arbitrary arrest, intimidation and interference. “In this connection, the lifting of the emergency laws by the Government, which it committed to doing in February, will go a long way towards fulfilling most of these conditions,” he said.
For its part, UNAMID would continue to do everything within its mandate to facilitate the return of peace and stability. Robust and increased patrols would remain the rule of the mission, as would collaboration with the United Nations country team and humanitarian actors. The mission would also help stakeholders disseminate the Doha Document to the Darfurian population, in order to broaden popular support for it.
He said the challenge for the international community — including the Council — was to determine how best to impress on all sides that a military solution was “not the way to go”. He asked the Council to provide strong guidance during this critical phase of UNAMID’s mandate to consolidate recent gains, saying: “The imperative for peace is now, as the people of Darfur have suffered too long and too deeply.”
Since May, he reported, fighting between the Government and rebel forces had continued in the north, south and west. SLA-Minni Minawi, supported by a breakaway faction of LJM, had tried to retake Shangil Tobaya. JEM continued efforts to move towards Mellit in North Darfur, while SLA-Abdul Wahid maintained a strong presence in Rockero and Jebel Marra. On 14 May and 26 June, leaders of SLA-Minni Minawi and SLA-Abdul Wahid had declared joint actions against the Government, further challenging the security environment. UNAMID would closely monitor those developments and their impact on civilians.
Outlining progress, he said tribal clashes were decreasing, due mainly to UNAMID-assisted efforts, while implementation of the June 2010 truce agreement between the Nawaiba and Misseriya in the Zalingei area of West Darfur was being closely monitored. But fatal attacks still had occurred. On 30 June, an Ethiopian peacekeeper was killed and another injured after a UNAMID minibus had been attacked in El Geneina, West Darfur, by unknown gunmen. “Such acts, which constitute war crimes, should not go unpunished,” he declared.
He went on to say that two UNAMID national staff members, arrested and held by the Government of Sudan, had been released, respectively, on 12 July, after 68 days in detention, and on 20 July, after 85 days in custody. Progress on the issue of impunity had been seen with the 5 May Special Court sentencing of two people to 10 years in prison for their involvement in the 2010 kidnapping of foreign aid workers and the carjacking of two international non-governmental organization vehicles in South Darfur.
Further, UNAMID had carried out 23,999 patrols between 1 April and 30 June, during which its land movements had been restricted on 68 occasions, he said. Most of those restricted patrols had either been in or seeking to enter areas believed by the Government to harbour armed movements. Long- and medium-range patrols were being conducted in new locations, including Jebel Marra, the border between South Darfur and the Republic of South Sudan, as well as in northern parts of West Darfur.
On the humanitarian front, he said that despite the displacement of between 60,000 to 70,000 people since the start of the year, progress had been seen in the lifting of movement restrictions in Sector South on 11 June, allowing humanitarian agencies to resume their work. Humanitarian access to Kalma camp also had resumed.
As for “Operation Spring Basket”, launched on 1 May, he said the initiative continued to facilitate delivery of aid to parts of Darfur that had long been inaccessible. UNAMID, in collaboration with humanitarian agencies, had operated in North, South and West Darfur and had visited nine communities. The impact had been most visible in the opening of humanitarian space, implementation of humanitarian protection assessments, and enhanced collaboration and relationship-building with the Government and armed movements.
Voluntary returns also had been observed, he said, noting that UNAMID and local authorities were facilitating the return of 1,150 internally displaced persons from the Kabkabiya area to Saihjanna.
More broadly, UNAMID and the Government continued to consult closely on all issues of concern to peace and stability in the region, he said. On 26 June, UNAMID had finalized a bridging solution with the National Public Radio Cooperation (NPRC) for the broadcast of UNAMID programmes on Al Salaam Radio and Darfur state radio stations, an interim arrangement until the Government acted on UNAMID’s application for a radio broadcasting license. Broadcasting had begun on 3 July.
The meeting began at 10:11 a.m. and ended at 10:32 a.m.
Council members had before them the report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (document S/2011/422), which assesses progress in implementing the benchmarks set out in annex II of his 16 November 2009 report (document S/2009/592) and gives an update of the political process and security and humanitarian situation in Darfur from 1 April to 30 June 2011.
In the report, the Secretary-General notes that the Darfur peace process has reached a critical juncture. A new road map is being prepared to reach a meaningful settlement to the conflict, which will require a broad-based buy-in from all parties. “I urge the international community to be united in their messages to the Government, SLA-Minni Minawi, SLA-Abdul Wahid and JEM to cease hostilities and enter into negotiations without preconditions,” he writes.
The Secretary-General recommends that the Council extend the mandate of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for one year, saying the mission has a significant role to play in supporting grass-roots-based peacebuilding and reconciliation.
During the reporting period, sporadic fighting between Government and movement forces caused instability in affected areas, according to the report. Military activity and associated restrictions limited the ability of UNAMID and humanitarian agencies to access populations in need.
The Secretary-General says he is encouraged by reports of voluntary returns of internally displaced persons. Still, he notes with concern the continued restrictions on access for UNAMID and humanitarian organizations and calls upon the Government and movement forces to eliminate them.
On safety, he says he is also encouraged by the relatively low number of attacks, due partly to UNAMID’s robust military and police personnel. At the same time, he condemns in the strongest terms those responsible for the attacks on UNAMID patrols, which caused the death of a UNAMID adviser.
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* The 6588th Meeting was closed.