The overall security situation in Darfur remained precarious and unpredictable, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations told the Security Council this morning, stressing that a comprehensive resolution of the Darfur conflict, which would allow for the return of over 2.6 million displaced persons, required first and foremost a political settlement between the Government and the armed movements.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document S/2015/729), Edmond Mulet said that it was of crucial importance that meetings on the cessation of hostilities, as well as the National Dialogue, take place as scheduled and create a momentum for future comprehensive direct talks on Darfur.
He said that from December 2014 to June 2015, the forces of the Government of Sudan had implemented the second phase of the “Decisive Summer” counter-insurgency operation with considerable gains against the non-signatory armed movements. That had led to over 104,000 newly confirmed displacements as well as 69,000 unconfirmed displacements.
He noted that there had been a pause since June, due to the rainy season. However, there had been no pause in inter-communal fighting, exacerbated by involvement of local armed groups. Although the Sudan Government had attempted to contain the violence through swift deployment of security forces and inter-communal mediation conferences, the underlying causes, related to the management of resources and impunity, remained unaddressed.
He said that on 28 September, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had issued decrees providing for a two-month cessation of hostilities in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and an unconditional pardon to members of the political and armed opposition who decide to participate in the National Dialogue process. On 18 October, the Sudan Revolutionary Front had declared its own six-month cessation of hostilities in accordance with its 14 September roadmap.
Yet those positive signals, he said, had not reduced the level of distrust between the two sides. The National Dialogue had been launched in Khartoum without the participation of the main armed and unarmed opposition groups. They were willing, however, to participate in a pre-dialogue meeting in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel.
UNAMID and humanitarian actors continued to face enormous operational challenges in Darfur, he said. The Government had continued to restrict air and ground movement, citing security reasons. In addition, an increase in attacks against UNAMID had been recorded, including the killing of a South African peacekeeper on 27 September.
Despite those obstacles, the Mission remained steadfast in the implementation of its strategic priorities, he stated, including focusing on developing early warning capacity, promoting dialogue between farming and pastoral communities, and supporting local institutions. The Mission had continued to facilitate the demobilization of former. On 19 October, President al-Bashir had announced a referendum to determine the administrative status of Darfur in April 2016.
UNAMID and the United Nations Country Team had continued their work on an operational plan for the gradual transfer of tasks to the latter, he went on to say. The initial phase of that process would focus on capacity-building of sexual and gender-based violence prevention mechanisms, among other issues. The Deputy Secretary-General, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan had met in New York on 29 September to discuss, among other things, an exit strategy based on the parameters set by the Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council.
He urged the Government of Sudan to maintain its current cooperation in ensuring swift clearance of UNAMID food rations and to lift all existing restrictions on the free movement of its personnel and assets and the issuance of visas. In conclusion, he announced that yesterday, the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission had announced the appointment of Martin Uhomoibhi of Nigeria as their new Joint Special Representative for Darfur and Head of UNAMID.
Following the briefing, Omer Dahab F. Mohamed (Sudan) expressed deep concern about the report’s references to a lack of progress towards a “peaceful solution” and “political resolution of the conflict in Darfur”, as well as its call for the Government and armed movements to resume talks without preconditions. He hoped no one sought to be absolved of adhering to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.
He said the ongoing inclusive National Dialogue aimed to explore a configuration for Sudan’s future political scene by building consensus on drafting a permanent constitution. Presidential and parliamentary elections had been held in April, including in the five states of Darfur. He clarified that violence in Darfur did not signal an internal conflict commensurate with that outlined in Annex II of the Geneva Conventions. The same was true for the political narrative depicting the security situation.
The report’s references to theft and other crimes marked a transition from a conflict-management situation to a conflict-ending one, he said. “What is required now is poring over development work and mitigating the devastating effects of desertification,” he said. References to Sudan’s withholding of visas for UNAMID staff, and numbers of displaced persons were inaccurate, as they did not consider inter-tribal clashes, which were usually followed by immediate State measures to contain such hostilities. The number of people returning also had not been reflected. The report’s “arbitrary” numbers aimed only to deem the Government non-cooperative and thus install a peacekeeping operation.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 10:39 a.m.