|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6318th Meeting (AM)
African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur Focused on Protection
Mandate despite Challenges, Security Council Told
Parties Unable to Agree on Peace Accord, Ceasefire
Implementation Protocol, Says Joint Special Representative
Approaching full deployment, and with the peace process progressing slowly, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) was now focused on carrying out its protection mandate despite the challenges, Ibrahim Gambari, Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative, told the Security Council today.
“The challenges confronting the mission are considerable, but my colleagues in UNAMID and I remain determined to see that progress is made in stabilizing the security situation and ending the conflict, which has brought untold sorrow to the peoples of Darfur,” Mr. Gambari told the 15-member body during a briefing this morning.
Those challenges included a deep sense of mistrust among the parties, pockets of instability and lack of access to unstable and other areas by UNAMID, he explained. Listing priority actions to overcome the challenges, he said they included enhancing security for the mission, humanitarian personnel and the target population; providing more proactive support for the peace process; facilitating the ongoing normalization of relations between Sudan and Chad; and supporting recovery efforts.
He said that among the positive developments was the considerable progress achieved by the Joint Chief Mediator at the Doha peace talks, through the creation of the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), which merged members of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)-Revolutionary Forces (Tripoli Group) and part of the Road Map Group (Addis Ababa Group) into a single new movement under the leadership of Eltigani Sesi Mohamed Ateem. That had been followed by the signing of two framework agreements to resolve the conflict in Darfur between the Government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the newly formed LJM.
Unfortunately, the parties had not been able to reach a final peace agreement by the 15 March deadline or a ceasefire implementation protocol, he said. In May, JEM had suspended its participation in negotiations to protest alleged violations of the ceasefire agreement, and the past few weeks had been marked by violent clashes between that group and Government troops. UNAMID had received reports of renewed fighting between Government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)-Abdul Wahid faction, he said.
He said tensions also remained high in South Darfur and West Darfur following recent intertribal fighting between the Misseriya and Nouwaiba-Rizeigat tribes, which had caused civilian casualties and displacement, in addition to hindering the delivery of humanitarian assistance. UNAMID had been working at all levels to improve security and protection, facilitate access for humanitarian agencies and support reconciliation efforts, he emphasized, calling on the parties to refrain from fighting and engage in dialogue. “I am very much of the view that the Darfur crisis cannot be solved through military means, but through negotiations and the political process.”
Mr. Gambari reported with grave concern that United Nations and humanitarian personnel continued to be targeted for attacks and other criminal acts such as abduction and kidnapping. Most recently, a UNAMID military patrol had been attacked in South Darfur on 7 May, resulting in the deaths of two Egyptian peacekeepers and serious injuries to three others. Citing other examples, he said three staff members of the international non-governmental organization Samaritan’s Purse had been abducted in Abu Ajura on 18 May, and he had issued firm instructions to UNAMID troops and police to respond more robustly to such attacks, which constituted war crimes. Other significant challenges to the peace process included limited progress towards ceasefire arrangements and a comprehensive agreement, he said, noting that the Joint Chief Mediator had invited all parties to resume negotiations in Doha, which had been suspended during the June election period.
UNAMID’s deployment had reached about 87 per cent for the military and 74 per cent for the civilian and police components, he said. Tactical helicopters had arrived from Ethiopia, and progress had also been made in building up the mission’s infrastructure to better carry out its activities. However, with most of the remaining military and police personnel scheduled to arrive in theatre within the coming months, there had been no pledges of critical enabling units such as military utility helicopters and aerial surveillance units for UNAMID. In view of the substantial levels of deployment, he said, a consensus had emerged that the mission should shift its focus from deployment-related issues to mandate implementation.
Turning to the recent Sudanese elections, he welcomed the peaceful and orderly manner in which they had been held in Darfur, in spite of strong opposition from the armed movements. Three new Governors, 144 state legislators and 72 representatives of Darfur had been elected to the National Assembly, he said, stressing the importance of factoring the views of elected Darfurians, as well as other important stakeholders, including displaced persons, into the peace process.
He said that following the recent strategic consultations between the African Union and the United Nations, UNAMID had begun to engage systematically with newly elected officials, displaced persons, Arab tribes, traditional leaders and native administrations, women, youth and all other representatives of civil society for their input and involvement in the peace process. The recent rapprochement between Sudan and Chad was “holding and strengthening”, he said, adding that the mission had not recorded any reports of military activity or cross-border attacks. Both countries had set up the agreed joint border-monitoring forces comprising 1,500 soldiers from each, and the major border crossing close to El Geneina had reopened.
The nexus between peace, security and development could not be overemphasized, he said, warning that the retention of an estimated 2.3 million people in internal displacement camps constituted a “time bomb”. A programme for their voluntary and sustainable return to their homes or areas close to the camps must therefore be vigorously pursued. The primary responsibility for that effort, as well as for providing a peace dividend for the rest of Sudan’s population, rested with the Government, which, however, could not accomplish it alone, he said. To that end, UNAMID had intensified its cooperation with the United Nations country team, started to boost its presence in rural areas that might receive returnees and begun to examine how to help the Government rehabilitate transport and water infrastructure.
In that context, he welcomed the efforts of all donors supporting the people of Darfur, saying that the recent donors’ conference in Cairo had garnered pledges of more than $850 million, and unveiled projected model villages, other housing and water resources. In addition, the Government of Qatar had pledged $1 billion in seed money for a Darfur Recovery Fund, he said, expressing hope that the Council would encourage and facilitate more similar actions.
The meeting began at 10:13 a.m. and ended at 10:37.
The Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document S/2010/213) covering the period from 1 February to 30 April and focusing on the political process, the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur and the status of compliance by all parties with their international obligations.
According to the report, there were some positive developments, including progress in the negotiations in Doha, Qatar, improved relations between Sudan and Chad and a largely peaceful election process. The increasing operational capabilities of UNAMID have improved safety and security, the report adds.
However, it points to serious challenges to lasting peace in the region, including ongoing violence in many areas, the lack of participation by key stakeholders in the political process and non-participation in the elections by large groups of Darfurians. There is serious concern about reports of clashes between Government forces and the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA)-Abdul Wahid, and intercommunal violence resulting from the highest number of casualties since the inception of UNAMID.
The report says that the continued denial of access to UNAMID by the various parties significantly constrains the mission’s ability to protect civilians in imminent danger, and deliberate attacks on UNAMID impede patrols in vulnerable areas, particularly those under the control of non-signatories to the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement. The Secretary-General strongly condemns the abduction of four UNAMID police advisers on 11 April, and urges all parties to ensure the safety and security of all United Nations and associated personnel.
Since substantial elements of the population, including those in rebel-held areas and many camps for internally displaced persons, were not included in the elections, the report says, it remains vital that the Government find mechanisms for including their views in national decision-making processes. Moreover, the final peace agreement for the resolution of the Darfur conflict must be comprehensive and inclusive of all Darfurian stakeholders, including civil society, the report states, adding that Abdul Wahid’s continuing refusal to join the Doha process constitutes a serious impediment to the peace process in Darfur.
The report welcomes the restoration of diplomatic relations between Sudan and Chad, and the deployment of the joint border-monitoring force, and urges the two Governments to take appropriate steps to address the insecurity created by the redeployment of Chadian armed opposition groups away from the border areas. However, it expresses concern at the proliferations of firearms among Darfurian communities.
The Secretary-General is encouraged by progress towards the full deployment of UNAMID, the report says, noting, however, that continuing shortfalls in terms of the self-sustainment of military and formed police units remain a challenge to the mission’s operational capability. He welcomes the action plans of SLA-Free Will, JEM-Peace Wind and SLA-Abu Gasim to cease recruitment of children and release all children associated with them, calling on other armed groups, as well as Government forces, to do the same.
The Secretary-General notes that the humanitarian operation in Darfur has stabilized conditions in terms of food security, health, nutrition and water, but because of the fragile situation, donors should continue their generous contributions of humanitarian aid. There is also a need to find lasting solutions not only for displaced persons but also for managing the growing urban centres in Darfur. It is also critical that the Sudanese local and national authorities continue to invest in health, education, water, sanitation and other basic infrastructure throughout Darfur, the report, says, concluding that such outstanding issues as access to land, compensation and reconciliation must be resolved through inclusive decision-making processes.
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