14 September 2017
8050th Meeting (AM)

African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur Remains Focused on Key Strategic Priorities, Joint Special Representative Tells Security Council

Reconsider Sanctions Imposed in 2005, Permanent Representative Urges, while Hailing Improved Sudan-UNAMID Partnership

While moving forward with its reconfiguration efforts, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) remained focused on the implementation of its key strategic priorities, including the protection of civilians, the Security Council heard today as it took up the Secretary-General’s latest report on that mission (document S/2017/776).

Jeremiah Mamabolo, Joint Special Representative for UNAMID, said other top priorities included mediation efforts between the Government of Sudan and armed movements, and support for ending intercommunal conflicts in Darfur.  Thus far, the mission had closed 11 team sites and cut military personnel strength from 15,845 to 11,395.  Police personnel strength had been reduced from 3,403 to 2,888.  The mission had also developed plans to deploy the Jebel Marra Task Force and requested land from the Government for the establishment of a temporary operating base in Golo.  The protection strategy for Jebel Marra had also been developed, while the review of civilian personnel, commensurate with the new troop ceiling and configuration, had been completed and would be reflected in the new budget submission.

Regarding the broader situation in Darfur, he said the region was largely calm after brief clashes in the states of East Darfur and North Darfur in May and June, between Government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi.  The clashes were a reminder of the need for all parties to commit to the cessation of hostilities, and for further steps towards a permanent and lasting peace, he said.  With the exception of violent clashes between the Rezeigat and the Ma’alia in East Darfur, which had resulted in significant hostilities, there had been fewer intercommunal incidents, due partly to intervention by the native administration, community leaders and local committees.  However, violence against civilians, banditry and criminal activities continued, albeit on a smaller scale, with most incidents targeting internally displaced persons, farmers and women.

Turning to the human rights situation, he said there had been some progress, including the granting of presidential pardons to six human rights defenders.  Efforts were being made at the local level to extend judicial services beyond urban centres, and in some cases, to arrest those accused of criminal activities.  However, much more effort was needed to improve the overall human rights situation, he emphasized.

Most of the current insecurity in Darfur could be attributed to tensions originating from the underlying causes of the conflict, he noted, adding that it was exacerbated by the proliferation of arms in the hands of civilians and militia groups.  Intercommunal disputes — usually triggered by competition over land, water, livestock and mineral resources — had become increasingly violent due to the availability of weapons, he said, recalling that the Government had launched the third phase of its arms-control campaign on 6 August.  It had been greeted with varied reactions as opposition and non-signatory movements, as well as some ethnic and militia groups questioned the Government’s intentions and others, such as the militia leader Musa Hilal, opposed the campaign outright.

Progress towards implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur remained limited, particularly on outstanding issues fundamental to sustainable peace, such as lasting solutions to displacement, the administration of land, water and other scarce resources, as well as the issue of armed militias.  Efforts by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel, with the support of UNAMID, for a cessation-of-hostilities agreement and resumption of direct negotiations towards an inclusive peace agreement to end the conflict, remained inconclusive.  He said that, while he continued to engage both parties with a view to breaking the stalemate over negotiations, the Council and those with influence over them should stress the importance of a political settlement and refrain from visiting more suffering upon the people they professed to represent.

Returning to the clashes between Government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi, he said they had reportedly resulted in displacements, although the figures could not be confirmed.  The internally displaced continued to require UNAMID’s protection and humanitarian assistance on a daily basis, he said, emphasizing the urgent need for the Government, with international support, to find sustainable solutions that would allow the displaced to return to their homes voluntarily.  Cooperation with the Government had improved noticeably, as had the humanitarian operating environment, he noted, saying UNAMID was meeting fewer restrictions on movement.  In addition, the issuance of visas and the clearance of essential equipment continued to improve, although the mission was still awaiting the issuance of visas for human rights staff.

Sudan’s representative described the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations, through UNAMID, as an excellent example of the need to strengthen cooperation.  Thanks to the Government’s efforts, alongside UNAMID and the African Union, Darfur’s five states had seen a mobilization of all segments of society and all institutions.  That had facilitated the unity and peace prevailing throughout the region after rebel forces had been neutralized and forced to withdraw from Darfur.  The President of Sudan had implemented a campaign to collect illegal arms from all citizens following the adoption of a national plan, he said, adding that the programme was progressing rapidly, although the operation was costly, requiring significant technical capability.  In that context, he called for increased support from the international community.

The Government had reaffirmed its commitment to cooperation and coordination on the implementation of resolution 2363 (2017), he continued.  There had been a massive return to Darfur of the displaced, including chiefs and heads of armed groups.  Emphasizing the need to reconsider the sanctions in place since 2005, he also affirmed that the Doha Document remained the only way to achieve lasting peace in Darfur, pointing out that some 95 per cent of its provisions had been implemented despite the refusal by some armed groups to support it.

Uruguay’s representative said that despite the reduced number of armed clashes, the security and human rights situation in Darfur remained volatile.  Intercommunal conflict remained one of the main types of violence and was directly linked to the root causes of the larger conflict, he noted.  That violence was exacerbated by the lack of capacity on the part of rule-of-law institutions to tackle the challenges they faced.

Bolivia’s representative emphasized that the relative calm in the region must lead to the strengthening of political processes in Darfur, including the resolution of differences over the Doha Document.  It was critical to guarantee the presence of the State and to strengthen police and other institutions in areas from which UNAMID would soon withdraw, he emphasized.  Describing the Government’s campaign to collect illegal weapons and round up unlicensed vehicles as a positive step, he said it must be completed successfully.  Bolivia was concerned about the humanitarian situation of internally displaced persons, particularly the exposure of women and girls to violence, he said.

The meeting began at 10:48 a.m. and ended at 11:20 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.