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‘Overall situation in Darfur remains fragile’: Unamid head

July 10 - 2017 KHARTOUM
Jeremiah Mamabolo, Joint Special Representative of Unamid (sudan.timesofnews.com)
Jeremiah Mamabolo, Joint Special Representative of Unamid (sudan.timesofnews.com)

Today, the Joint Special Representative of the UN-AU peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (Unamid), Jeremiah Mamabolo, briefed an audience in Khartoum on the consequences of the UN Security Council Resolution 2363 of 29 June.

“In the past three years or so, the armed conflict that gave rise to the need for a peacekeeping presence in Darfur has become, broadly, localised to the presence of the holdout movement, Sudan Liberation Army, led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLA-AW), in western Jebel Marra. However, it is a fact that some 2.7 million people continue to live in displaced persons’ camps; militia groups continue to be active and inter-communal violence still occurs across the region.

“The overall situation in Darfur remains fragile and, therefore, Unamid’s strategic priorities remain the same—firstly, we are here to protect civilians as well as facilitate humanitarian access, while ensuring the safety and security of humanitarian personnel; secondly, we continue to mediate between the Government of Sudan and non-signatory armed movements; and, lastly, we support mediation of inter-communal conflicts,” the Joint Special Representative (JSR) said.

Reconfiguration

“But, I cannot deny that significant developments have taken place in Darfur and in Sudan, in the past decade, which have necessitated changes in the way we function as a Mission on the ground. Unamid, therefore, is in the process of a comprehensive reconfiguration, a change in the concept of its operations, which I will attempt to summarize for you here, as succinctly as possible, today.

“Broadly speaking, the Mission is in the process of transforming its operations based on a two-pronged approach which will combine peacekeeping and peace building or stabilization efforts. We will concentrate traditional peacekeeping tasks around the greater Jebel Marra area, keeping in mind the ongoing instability and resultant displacement in the vicinity, as well as recurrent inter-communal violence. The focus here will be on emergency relief, addressing protection needs and the safe destruction of explosive remnants of war.

“In other areas across Darfur, Unamid will be working in greater collaboration than ever before, with the Government of Sudan and the UN Country Team to apply a more peace building-oriented approach.

“In order to successfully implement this new, two-pronged focus, as well as reinforce the agility and proactive nature of its operations on the ground, the Mission is in the process of restructuring its uniformed personnel in two phases. Currently, we are in Phase 1 of the reconfiguration process which is expected to be completed in six months. At the end of Phase 1, we will be reducing our authorized ceiling for uniformed personnel to 11, 395 military and 2,888 police. Simultaneously, we will be closing 11 team sites across Darfur.

“A review of Phase 1 will be conducted in January 2018, following the implementation of Phase 2, which involves a further reduction of military personnel to 8, 735 and police personnel to 2,500 by 30 June 2018, will be effected. These further reductions are, of course, subject to change depending on the outcomes of the Phase 1 review.

We are currently in discussions with the Government of Sudan to open a temporary operating base in Golo, Central Darfur, and further facilitate our access to other areas across the region.

Achievements

Mamabolo, who was appointed JSR and Joint Chief Mediator in April this year, as well spoke about the Mission’s achievements.

“Overall, across Darfur, Unamid troops and police have demonstrated a proactive, robust posture in protecting civilians. But, as you will agree with me, peacekeeping is not an easy task. Just as recently as 31 May 2017, we lost a peacekeeper in a carjacking attempt in Nyala, South Darfur.

“Another example of this is the ongoing situation in Sortony. Unamid and humanitarian partners continue to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to some 21,000 displaced gathered in the vicinity of the Mission’s Sortony Team Site in North Darfur since mid-January 2016. Our peacekeepers play a key role in addressing challenges and concerns here, as well as in efforts to mitigate continued tensions between communities at the site; it also supports humanitarian actors.

Unamid remains as well “committed to supporting the Government of Sudan authorities on improving rights and access to justice in Darfur. Additionally, the Mission will, in collaboration with the UN Country Team and donor partners, continue to provide technical support to transitional justice mechanisms as well as work closely with the National Commission for Human Rights, and parties to the conflict.”

Dynamic partnership’

Unamid also remains “fully engaged with mediation and reconciliation activities aimed at preventing and mitigating inter-communal conflicts across Darfur. As part of its peace building efforts, the Mission will seek to work more closely than ever with the Government of Sudan to support its reconciliation efforts on those conflicts that have the potential to derail the improving security situation in Darfur.

“A dynamic partnership between Unamid, the Government of Sudan and the UN Country Team is envisaged which will focus on supporting the host government to address the root causes of communal violence which are primarily related to the access, use and management of natural resources.

“Finally, we all know that the only sustainable solution to the conflict in Darfur depends on a negotiated political settlement pursuant to the Roadmap; and, in this regard we continue to support all parties to the conflict to reach an agreement on cessation of hostilities. We will continue to work towards ensuring that the kind of conflict which occurred in mid-May, does not recur,” Mamabolo’s statement concludes.

DRDC concerned about deteriorating security

In response to the extension of the mandate of Unamid for another year and the reduction of the peacekeeping troops, the Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre (DRDC) issued a statement on 3 July in which renewed its concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur, and denounces the downsizing of Unamid.

The Centre as well cites the need to keep the situation under its scrutiny as it represents a threat to regional and international peace and security.

“DRDC fully agrees with the Council’s conclusion that: “… the overall security situation in Darfur remains precarious due to activities of militia groups, the incorporation of some militias into auxiliary units of the Government of Sudan forces, which have become key actors in the conflict between the Government of Sudan, the armed movements and in inter-communal conflict and further exacerbate insecurity and threats against civilians in Darfur.”

Automatic weapons

The DRDC further “once again demands that parties to the conflict in Darfur cease all hostilities and acts of violence. We further demand that the proliferation of automatic weapons and the massive use of such weapons by the government security forces against civilian in Darfur ends without delay as well as disarmament of the government-allied militia groups that has been repeatedly demanded by the victims of the armed conflict in Darfur.”

According to the centre, the “recent military confrontations between the security forces and the Darfur insurgent movements as well as the ongoing acts of violence and forced displacement of thousands of civilians in May and June 2017 in North and East Darfur, belie the claims that the security situation in Darfur regained normality and that readjustment of Unamid at this critical moment is a viable option. [..]

“It is DRDC’s strong belief that by reducing the size of Unamid and eventually withdrawing it from Darfur, the Security Council will condemn the displaced people and other victims of the conflict to suffer for years to come in miserable conditions.

“Such a decision betrays one of the core objectives of the UN Charter i.e. maintaining and preserving international peace and security,” the Centre states.


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