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Darfur movements urge UK to support Unamid presence in the region

November 5 - 2017 LONDON
Unamid peacekeepers patrol in Zamzam camp in North Darfur, 22 November 2016 (Mohamad Almahady/Unamid)
Unamid peacekeepers patrol in Zamzam camp in North Darfur, 22 November 2016 (Mohamad Almahady/Unamid)

The Sudan Liberation Movement faction led by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have called on the British government to support Unamid's continued presence in Darfur until peace and stability prevail in the conflict-torn region.

Ahmed Tugud Lisan, JEM Peace Negotiations Secretary and Hussein Minawi, SLM-MM Organisation and Administration Secretary reported in a press statement on Friday that a joint delegation of the two movements met with the officials responsible for the Sudan file at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London last week.

They discussed the numbers and facts of the continuing violence in Darfur, the danger of an exit of Unamid, and the potential damage it could entail to the residents of the region.

The British officials stressed their interest in the human rights situation in Sudan, the harassment of political activists, journalists, and Christians, and the violence in areas of conflict and the camps for the displaced, in particular in Darfur.

Britain will pressure the Sudanese government to sign and ratify the International Convention Against Torture.

Exit, reduction

End 2014, the Sudanese authorities began to push for the exit of the UN-AU peacekeeping mission from Darfur after Unamid officials urged an investigation into a mass rape in North Darfur’s Tabit on 31 October that year.

On 29 June, the UN Security Council renewed Unamid’s mandate until 30 June next year. It also decided on a reduction of the peacekeepers “in two six-month phases while closely monitoring the situation on the ground.” More than a third of the nearly 19,000 Unamid military troops and police officers were to be withdrawn.

In September, the rebel movements protested the alleged handing of two North Darfur bases to the country’s main militia.

With the handing of the Zamzam team site in North Darfur to the Sudanese authorities on 21 October, Unamid completed the first phase of the reduction.

Darfur displaced, Sudanese politicians, and international activists have all warned for the consequences of a downsizing of the number of peacekeepers for the people in Darfur.

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