On Thursday, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to extend the mandate of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid) until 31 October 2020.
The Security Council welcomed the political transition and the launch of a countrywide peace process in Sudan, and decided to extend the mandate of Unamid for one year, the UN reported.
“Unanimously adopting Resolution 2495 (2019), the 15‑member body decided that the Mission will maintain its current troop and police level until 31 March 2020, keeping all team sites other than the sector headquarters in South Darfur, with draw-down plans following that date to be decided upon.
“The Mission will also focus on protection of civilians, facilitation of humanitarian assistance, monitoring of human rights — particularly gender‑based violence and abuse of children — and support for the voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of displaced persons,” the report says.
Sudan’s Ambassador to the UN Omer Siddig expressed very warm thanks to all the members of the Security Council for extending the mandate. He said he hopes the Security Council “will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the civilian governance of Sudan as it works to overcome the challenges ahead”.
The mandate of Unamid and eventual exit has been contentious among Council members in the past. Resolution 2429, renewing Unamid's mandate in July last year, took note of the recommendations in the special report of the Secretary-General and Chairperson of the AU, which stated that the mission would exit in June 2020 "provided that there is no significant change in the security situation in Darfur and key indicators are fulfilled".
On 27 June, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2479, extending the Darfur peacekeepers' mandate until 31 October. That resolution was a technical rollover of the mandate set out in Resolution 2429, and the Council did not authorise any changes to the role of the mission or any further reductions in its troop and police ceiling.
The extention of the mandate of Unamid until 31 October 2020 was requested by Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok Hamdok in a letter to the Secretary-General on 22 October. It seems the letter made negotiations on the issue of timing uncontentious, with all members seeking to support his request.
End 2014, Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir, deposed in a military coup in April this year, stated that the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur had become a “security burden” on the Sudan Armed Forces, demanding from Unamid to develop a “clear exit programme”.
The Security Council decided as well that priorities of the extended [Unamid] mandate will include support to the peace process and peacebuilding activities, as recommended in the special report of the African Union Commission and the Secretary-General.
Priorities of the new Sudanese interim cabinet, formed on September 5, are the realisation of a comprehensive peace with the armed movements in Darfur and the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile state) and improvement of the dire economic conditions in the country.
The Council called upon the parties to the peace process brokered by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in Juba "to meaningfully participate and demonstrate progress in advancing the negotiations with the goal of creating a fair and comprehensive peace, enabling Unamid to a full exit.
Resolution 2495 as well requested a new report about the situation on the ground and the peace process by the end of January, before a possible exit of the peacekeeping mission will be discussed on March 31.
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