|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7238th Meeting (PM)
Insecurity, Movement Restrictions in Darfur Pose Threat to Implementing
Mission’s Mandate, UNAMID Head Tells Security Council
Despite a challenging operational environment, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) continued to implement its strategic priorities and streamline its operations, the mission’s head told the Security Council this afternoon.
“Insecurity, acts of criminality and movement restrictions by Government forces, armed movements and militia groups” continued to threaten the mission’s mandate implementation efforts, said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative for Darfur and Head of UNAMID. The comments came as he summarized recent developments in Darfur and the mission’s efforts to implement the provisions of Security Council resolution 2148 (2014), contained in the Secretary-General’s 22 July report on UNAMID (document S/2014/515).
The mission’s core mandate remained the protection of civilians and its military and police components were central to that, he said. Efforts to improve force disposition and robustness could be seen to have borne fruit in their abilities to repel recent attacks on UNAMID patrols.
Despite the loss of one peacekeeper in an attack on 24 May, the UNAMID patrol had “inflicted significant casualties on the side of the attackers,” he said, adding that the “immediate and decisive manner” in which the patrol had responded was testimony to improvements in the preventive and pre-emptive posture of troops. Further, in the first half of 2014 the casualty rate for the mission personnel had “dropped dramatically compared with 2013” and was at the same level as other United Nations peacekeeping missions in 2014.
Restrictions of movement on UNAMID had also decreased considerably, he said, with land movements restricted only 21 times, compared with 71 times in the previous reporting period. That was due to a three-track approach that focused on revised standard operating procedures regarding conducts of convoys when facing roadblocks or “restricts”, regular communication with both the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and United Nations Headquarters, as well as sustained dialogue with State and federal counterparts aimed at quickly addressing access restrictions.
He described efforts by UNAMID to give support to local reconciliation initiatives in various tribal conflicts, noting that the mission’s support had helped prevent, mitigate or minimize the results of violent tribal clashes on the civilian population. The mission continued to work with the United Nations country team on physical protection and facilitating humanitarian assistance to civilians and well-coordinated crisis management had allowed the mission to handle several recent emergencies stemming from inter-ethnic violence.
The mission’s efforts were taking place against a backdrop of considerably reduced fighting between Government forces and armed movements, he said, adding that intermittent inter-communal violence continued, mainly between tribes competing for resources. He pointed to a relative easing in fighting between Government forces and armed movements, with the Rapid Support Force operations reducing significantly.
Eleven years into the Darfur conflict, he said the humanitarian situation remained “very dire”. The number of internally displaced persons since the start of 2014 had increased from 250,000 in the previous reporting period to 385,000, alongside over 2 million long-term internally displaced persons. With such a large portion of the population scattered, the imperative of a political solution to unpin humanitarian efforts had to be emphasized.
He spoke of progress in implementing the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, with the Darfur Internal Dialogue and Consultation formally launched in May and a 17-member Implementation Committee established to lead the process and ensure local ownership, inclusiveness and transparency. He renewed his call for more funding for the Darfur Development Strategy Foundation and short-term projects and efforts to address the root causes of conflict in Darfur.
He said the Ceasefire Commission had made progress with Justice and Equality Movement-Sudan committing to troop verification and the preparation of reception camps to enable integration of the Liberation and Justice Movement into the Sudan Armed Forces and Police. He had been mediating to help enable direct negotiations between the Government of Sudan and non-signatory armed movements and he had explored the organization of a preparatory meeting as soon as possible. That meeting would explore ways to address the humanitarian and security situation in Darfur and to deliberate on how the parties could bridge their differences and make progress towards a comprehensive settlement of the conflict.
The challenge for the international community was to impress the idea that a military solution and the status quo were untenable, he said. There was broad and general consensus that the proposed national dialogue initiative of President Omer Al-Bashir was the best way to resolve the crisis. There were questions over the details but he encouraged support for a successful process. He would work to promote engagement and to agree to security arrangements so that all parties could take part in the national dialogue.
The representative of Sudan said the period covered by the report witnessed a significant improvement in the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur. That was thanks to the efforts of the Sudanese Government and partly due to its full cooperation with and willingness to facilitate the work of the mission.
He noted that the report also referred to several incidents that had occurred in the first quarter of 2014, a period covered by a previous report. Those violations were committed by remnant armed groups but the facts were presented in a way that made it difficult to see who was responsible. He rejected allegations made in the report over air strikes, rapes and other violations and suggested that the statistics used were not reliable.
He underlined that the national dialogue was an internal matter, suggesting that some elements of the report stretched outside the mandate of the Joint Special Representative. He said the next few months would see a focus on support for development and the rejuvenation of recovery and rebuilding efforts, as well as efforts to return displaced persons.
Reminding the Council that resolution 1769 (2007) said the Council would examine the UNAMID mandate when the situation had significantly improved, he said it had and that those improvements were accompanied by moves forward in the national dialogue initiative. He was, therefore, already envisioning an exit strategy for the mission, particularly given that, with all the funds given to UNAMID since 2007, other projects were potentially missing out.
The meeting began at 3 p.m. and ended at 3:26 p.m.
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