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Sudan Foreign Ministry summons US diplomat over draft resolution

February 11 - 2016 KHARTOUM
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Khartoum (file photo)
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Khartoum (file photo)

On Wednesday, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry summoned the US chargé d’affaires in Khartoum on Washington’s draft UN Security Council resolution adding restrictions on gold mining to the sanctions related to the Darfur conflict. The Security Council extended the mandate of a panel monitoring violations of the UN arms embargo in the western region.

A 2005 UN Security Council resolution placed a travel ban and asset freeze on those “impeding the peace process” in Darfur, and established a UN panel of experts to monitor the arms embargo on Darfur.

The US draft on the extension of the resolution included “unfair clauses” on gold mining in Sudan, the Ministry said in a statement. “The draft resolution contradicts the general spirit of bilateral relations between the two countries, especially in light of the US envoy’s recent visit to Sudan and the meeting of the Foreign Minister with President Obama in Addis Ababa and with US Secretary of State John Kerry.”

300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since the war erupted in 2003. 4.4 million people need aid, and more than 2.5 million have been displaced. In January, a major government offensive on rebel strongholds in Jebel Marra displaced another 37,000 people, according to the UN.

Resolution

In its meeting on Wednesday, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution extending the Panel of Experts on the Sudan until 12 March next year.

“These Security Council members undermine important efforts to bring peace and stability to Darfur and allow those profiting from this illicit trade to continue doing so with impunity.”

No reference was included to the controversial gold mining in Darfur. The US, supported by the UK, had recommended the sanctioning of individuals and entities that impose illegal taxes on traditional gold miners, and those engaged in the illegal exploitation and trafficking of gold. However, Russia, China, and other, non-permanent members were opposed to this version.

“By doing so, these Security Council members undermine important efforts to bring peace and stability to Darfur and allow those profiting from this illicit trade to continue doing so with impunity,” said John Prendergast, Founding Director of the US Enough Project.

Omar Ismail, Senior Advisor to the Enough activists group, pointed to the impact of the illicit gold trade on the conflict in Darfur. He said that it is “most evident near Jebel ‘Amer, where former Janjaweed leader Mousa Hilal leads a significant mining operation, outside the scope of the Sudanese government. He is making millions from Sudanese gold at the expense of the local population.”

Gold mining

Gold has been the main source of income in Sudan since it became an oil importer when South Sudan seceded in 2011. The new nation took with it three-quarters of Sudan’s oil output, which used to be the main source of foreign currency to support the Sudanese pound and to pay for food and other imports.

Khartoum expects the country’s gold production to reach 100 tonnes this year.

The Sudanese Minister of Minerals and Mining, Ahmed El Karouri, met on Wednesday with the Russian ambassador to Sudan.

In a statement released after the meeting, El Karouri stressed that Sudan’s gold production does not fund the war “as it is claimed by some western circles and the USA”, but constitutes the main source of the income of poor families in the country.

He stated that 82 percent of Sudan’s gold production comes from traditional mining. More than one million Sudanese are gold miners, and their production feed more than five million people. He further stressed that gold companies work in safe zones far from the conflict affected areas.

The Panel of Experts is to provide a midterm update on its work to the UN Sanctions Committee no later than 12 August this year, and to submit a final report to the Security Council by 13 January 2017.

(Reuters, Sudan Tribune)


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