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Eid message: Unamid head calls for ‘new impetus to peace in Darfur’

May 24 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Unamid head Jeremiah Mamabolo addresses the UN General Assembly (File photo: UN / Loey Felipe)
Unamid head Jeremiah Mamabolo addresses the UN General Assembly (File photo: UN / Loey Felipe)

The head of the of the African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (Unamid), Joint Special Representative/Joint Chief Mediator Jeremiah Mamabolo has called for “a new impetus to peace, reconciliation, development and prosperity” in a statement to mark Eid El Fitir, the feast marking the end of Ramadan this weekend.

He also asserted “Unamid’s deep commitment to exert all possible efforts, within its mandate, capability and available resources, to support peace and reconciliation efforts across Darfur until its exit.”

Extending ‘Eid Mubarak’ greetings and best wishes to the people of Sudan, Mamabolo points out that “Eid El Fitir is a time for forgiveness, kindness, and compassion. These qualities are the essence of Islam. Eid is a time of joy and celebration; a time to make peace with all neighbours, relatives, and friends, and resolve differences.

‘Eid is a time of joy and celebration; a time to make peace with all neighbours, relatives, and friends, and resolve differences’ – Jeremiah Mamabolo

“This year, Eid will be observed amidst extraordinary circumstances due to the global outbreak of the New Coronavirus Pandemic known as Covid-19. This shall affect the way Muslims observe this occasion not just in Sudan, but across the globe. The inevitable restrictions on movement and travel will certainly limit visits wedding parties and other social interactions which are customary during Eid. Despite these restrictions, It is noted that adopting them is to the benefit of all. I therefore call on everyone to adhere fully to all the guidelines and prevention procedures outlined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Sudanese National Health authorities until this pandemic is over.

“Unamid has also been doing its part to safeguard and protect life and has put in place a set of stringent measures to screen, detect and quarantine its personnel travelling into Sudan to ensure no infections occur. The Mission also stopped troop rotation, restricted nonessential movement amongst its locations and restricted its activity only to critical life-saving operations. We even adopted alternate working modalities including telecommuting and virtual meetings to minimize physical proximity and staff numbers in offices and camps.

“Unamid is supportive of and complies with measures stet by the Government to combat this pandemic. We will continue working with the Sudanese health authorities within our capability and mandate as well as with the UN System in Sudan to fight the spread of the Covid-19. This cooperation and support shall continue till the very last day of the Mission’s presence in Darfur and until its exit by end of October 2020.”

In his message, Mamabolo points out that “the UN Secretary-General and the AU Chairperson indicated that Covid-19 is a real challenge to mankind. I therefore emphasise their appeal for stopping conflicts across the world and the needy for silencing guns and uniting to combat this menace and achieve peace for humanity.

“We sincerely hope that the goodwill of the season will add a new impetus to peace, reconciliation, development and prosperity. The people of Darfur deserve nothing less.

“I would like to reiterate Unamid’s deep commitment to exert all possible efforts, within its mandate, capability and available resources, to support peace and reconciliation efforts across Darfur until its exit,” Mamabolo concludes.

Unamid exit

Mamabolo met with the Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan in Khartoum on Monday to discuss the situation in Darfur.

As reported by Radio Dabanga in April, the UN Security Council is considering a new peace-building mission that could replace Unamid. The mandate of the new mission would be to assist Sudan to prepare for democratic elections, and to compile a new constitution. The proposal follows a request in February by the transitional government for such a mission.

The new “political, peace support and peace-building mission,” entitled United Nations Political and Peacebuilding Integrated Mission in Sudan (UNPPIMS), would be set up for an initial period of one year. It would deploy 2,500 police officers and a battalion of a rapid reaction force (between 500 and 800 personnel). The current Unamid mission deploys more than 4,300 soldiers, 2,100 police officers, and around 1,500 civilian employees.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Germany and the United Kingdom to extend Unamid’s term in Darfur until the end of May.

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council decided on Monday that the African Union-United Nations Mission Hybrid Operation in Darfur (Unamid) shall maintain its current troop and police ceilings until 31 May. Unamid will maintain all of its team sites for mandate implementation during this period.

The Security Council also expressed its intention to decide before 31 May on both a responsible drawdown and exit of Unamid, and the establishment of a follow-on United Nations presence in Sudan.

‘Unwise’

The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) argued that the exit of Unamid under the current circumstances where the security situation has been deteriorating since the end of 2019 is unwise. In the statement on Tuesday, they explained that the proposed UN Peace mission under Chapter VI is impractical, particularly in Darfur.

They said for these reasons, they think that the situation in Sudan requires a UN mission with strong mandate such as the one under Chapter VII for the protection of the people. In the statement, they explained that they understand and appreciate the objectives of the proposed mission, but it will not protect the people.

‘Unamid Presence is desperately needed’

“Unamid is needed now more than ever. The absence of Unamid will deteriorate and bring chaos to the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, ultimately costing human lives and significant amounts of money,” says Conflict Analysis and Resolution Scholar Practitioner, Dr Adeeb Yousif, in an op-ed published by Radio Dabanga last week.

“Darfuris, particularly IDPs and the urban population, are feeling very worried about the news that Unamid is leaving Darfur amid increased attacks against civilians. Their fears stem from the recent past of the Janjaweed militia killing their families, burning their villages, and looting their properties, among other hostilities committed in the absence of the international community. Their fears are also based on analysis of the current political situation. The IDPs, ordinary citizens, and other Unamid beneficiaries all feel the same – that there has not been any significant change in Darfur-Sudan. The people live in fear,” Dr Yousif asserts.


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