'Little progress on solving Darfur conflict, extend Unamid mandate': UN chief Ladsous
Unamid continues to face many obstacles in Sudan as the conflict in Darfur remains unchanged, the United Nations peacekeeping chief briefed the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday. Therefore the mission's mandate should be extended before July.
Presenting a special report by the UN Secretary-General and the African Union Commission on the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid), Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous briefed the Security Council in its 7716th meeting about the situation in Sudan and the progress of Unamid.
Ladsous said that the nature of the conflict in Darfur remains unchanged and little progress is made in finding viable political solutions. While direct clashes between government and armed forces have subsided, fighting with the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) has continued in Darfur. Inter-communal violence has expanded owing to disputes, the weak judicial system and the proliferation of weapons.
2.6 million people remain displaced across Darfur. Ladsous said that the UN has verified 80,000 people who have fled the armed conflict that began in January in Darfur's Jebel Marra. As many as 127,000 more people have been displaced by the fighting between government and the SLM-AW, particularly in Central Darfur, but this number could not be verified because of lack of access. The current security conditions in Darfur are not conducive to a large-scale return of displaced people to their places of origin, Ladsous added.
As for the progress of Unamid, a joint assessment of the mission concluded that the strategic priorities of Unamid remain valid, Ladsous informed the Council. However, the mission “continues to face many obstacles”: access denials to areas including Jebel Marra, visa delays, and no customs clearance by Sudanese authorities for shipments to Unamid.
According to the joint UN-AU report on 8 June, these delays have “severely impeded the ability of the Mission to protect civilians and themselves, communicate and conduct robust patrols,” with Unamid peacekeepers experiencing shortages in ammunition and other equipment.
He recommended for the current number of military and police personnel to be retained, however, within the existing capabilities, the mission should enhance their overall flexibility by reinforcing troops at sites of greater operational significance while reducing or closing others.
'No consensus on exit'
After Ladsous' briefing the fifteen member states held consultations on the extension of the mission's mandate, that will expire at the end of this month. The AU Peace and Security Council already endorsed a recommendation to extend the mandate on Monday. According to Ladsous the Joint Working Group, that consists of UN and AU representatives and the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, has continued discussing the exit strategy for the peacekeeping mission, which Khartoum has called for. Ladsous added that no consensus on Unamid's possible reconfiguration has been made.
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