The nature of the conflict in Darfur remained unchanged since the renewal of the Hybrid Operation’s mandate, the head of United Nations peacekeeping told the Security Council today.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on Sudan and South Sudan (document S/2016/510), Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that, as a result of a lack of progress towards a comprehensive political agreement, armed conflict, intercommunal violence and attacks against civilians had continued in the region.
“The sustainable resolution of intercommunal violence would require a comprehensive political agreement,” he said, stressing that it must recognize the rights of farmers and nomads, empower conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms and strengthen the capacity of the criminal justice system.
He emphasized that, while direct clashes between the Government and armed movement forces had subsided, the fighting with the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid in Jebel Marra had continued. The recent reports showed that ground fighting and aerial bombardment had continued until 5 June, with casualties on both sides and among civilians.
As of today, 2.6 million people remained displaced across Darfur, he said, noting that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had reported 80,000 verified displaced persons since the resumption of fighting in January. In addition, a total of 1.6 million civilians continued to reside in 60 camps in the region. Although some of those displaced had returned to their homes, many had chosen to remain in camps or urban areas.
With respect to relations with the Government of Sudan, he emphasized that the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) continued to face considerable challenges, including denial of access, freedom of movement, delays in visa issuance, and the clearance of military and police equipment. However, he said, following the last tripartite meeting in Khartoum, the Government had reiterated its commitment to resolve such issues. In addition, the African Union and United Nations had discussed the development of an exit strategy for the mission.
Given the current situation in Darfur, the strategic priorities of UNAMID and their corresponding benchmarks remained valid, he continued. Within that framework, it was essential that the mission focus on protecting the displaced population and addressing intercommunal violence more comprehensively.
He noted that current security conditions in Darfur were not conducive to a large-scale return of internally displaced persons. For its part, UNAMID would support the work of humanitarian partners and Sudan’s authorities, by providing protection to the displaced.
As part of the joint assessment, the African Union and United Nations had conducted a review of the effectiveness of the military and police components, he said. While it had recommended retaining the current strength, the mission needed to take necessary measures to enhance their overall flexibility.
The effect of UNAMID mandated activities in support of conflict resolution and protection would remain limited in the absence of progress towards a sustainable political solution, he stressed, calling upon all parties to continue efforts to achieve the much-needed secession of hostilities and ensure an inclusive national dialogue.
Speaking after that briefing, Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed (Sudan) said the reality on the ground was changing. From 12 to 22 May, the Joint Working Group of three parties, had visited Darfur’s five States and agreed on elements of recommendations for a gradual and phased exit strategy. Furthermore, 400,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their homes, and had been provided with basic services.
After almost a decade, UNAMID no longer existed in many parts of Darfur, he said, calling for the mission’s drawdown as it could be a start for a gradual exit and transfer of duties to the United Nations country team. For its part, the Government had attempted to reach a peace agreement, yet the opposition had refused to sign the African Union-proposed “road map”, which called for renewed negotiations with the Government on a cessation of hostilities.
The meeting began at 4:20 p.m. and ended at 4:50 p.m.