UN chief lauds Sudan political developments, laments ongoing security concerns
NEW YORK –
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has acknowledged ‘positive developments’ in the political situation in Sudan, but laments that the political crisis in Khartoum has impeded the prospects of attaining lasting peace across the country, and that ‘humanitarian needs have reached record levels and continue to grow exponentially’. Guterres also voices concern at the impact of ongoing security issues on civilians in Darfur.
In his latest 90-day report covering the period from November 21 2022 to February 18 2023, as required by UN Security Council resolution 2636 (2022), by which the Council decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS) until 3 June 2023, Guterres thanks “Special Representative, Volker Perthes, and all United Nations personnel in the Sudan, as well as our partners, in particular the African Union and IGAD, for their continued dedication and efforts in support of the country and its people. The United Nations remains committed to supporting the Sudanese people.”
Guterres highlights that “while positive developments were observed in the political situation in the Sudan, after more than a year of stalemate resulting from the military coup of 25 October 2021. On 5 December, the military leadership and over 40 political parties, signatory armed movements of the Juba Agreement for Peace in the Sudan, trade unions and professional associations signed a political framework agreement in Khartoum.”
He says that the signing of the framework agreement on 5 December renewed hope for the resumption of a civilian-led transition, emphasising that “to be sustainable, the political process and ensuing final settlement agreement need to be inclusive and enjoy broad public support. Addressing the most contentious issues at the core of the current crisis, including security sector reform, transitional justice and the full implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement, requires the participation of affected communities.
‘To ensure lasting peace in Sudan, it will be essential to address the root causes of conflict’
“In that regard, I am encouraged by the wide and diverse range of participants in the final phase conferences, representing non-signatory parties, including civil society, women’s groups, youth, resistance committees and experts. I commend the civilian and military signatories for their efforts to broaden inclusivity and increase participation in the political process.”
In his report, the secretary-general points out that the political crisis in Khartoum has impeded the prospects of attaining lasting peace across the country. “I remain concerned about the impact of intercommunal clashes and conflict on civilians…”
Guterres underlines that “to ensure lasting peace in Sudan, it will be essential to address the root causes of conflict”.
He notes that while the overall number of security incidents decreased, intercommunal clashes, armed conflict and criminality continued to pose serious security challenges. From 21 November to 18 February, 623 security incidents were recorded, compared with 524 during the previous reporting period. Intercommunal clashes reportedly left 111 people dead, including seven women and one child, and 100 people were reportedly injured, including three women and three children, compared with over 300 people killed in 18 incidents during the previous reporting period.
“The human rights situation in the Sudan remained concerning. During the reporting period, UNITAMS documented a total of 72 alleged incidents of human rights violations and abuses involving 316 victims, including 264 men, 31 women and 21 children (12 girls and 9 boys). Of the 72 documented incidents, 58 were verified. Violations of the right to life accounted for 135 victims (122 men, 9 women and 4 boys); violations of physical integrity accounted for 141 victims (123 men, 9 women and 9 children (5 boys and 4 girls)); sexual and gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, accounted for 17 victims (9 women and 8 girls); physical assault accounted for 14 victims (10 men and 4 women); there was one case of torture and one case of enforced disappearance (both men). Of the 72 verified incidents, 15 were reportedly attributed to government security forces, affecting 66 victims, and 52 reportedly to non-State armed groups, including armed movements and militia groups, affecting 236 victims. Unknown or unidentified individuals were responsible for 5 incidents affecting 14 victims,” the report states.
‘No progress has been made in reforming the field of justice’
“Since the military coup of 25 October 2021, the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office has documented the killing of 123 people in the context of protests, including one woman and 22 children, of whom two were girls. Of these, 97 people, including one woman and one girl, were reportedly killed by live ammunition. More than 9,096 people have reportedly been injured. Furthermore, the security forces continued to arbitrarily arrest protesters, some of whom reported ill-treatment during arrest or interrogation.”
The report indicates that no progress has been made in reforming the field of justice. He pointed out that children were subjected to 13 violations, including two girls, as two children were killed and 11 were mutilated.
The report warns that the economy would contract by 0.3 percent in 2022 due to the decline in economic activity, civil unrest, the suspension of international aid and the rise in import prices.
Regarding the work of the UNITAMS mission, the Secretary-General of the United Nations indicated that the work of the mission was affected by the delay in the delivery of visas to new employees, as only three visas have been approved since November, and all requests related to civil servants and members of the Ceasefire Committee, numbering 19, are still awaiting a decision. He pointed out that the authorities stopped issuing exemptions from travel restrictions for members of the mission outside Khartoum.
He said that administrative obstacles still hinder the mission’s ability to implement its mandate, and called on the government to abide by the agreement signed with the mission and expedite the processing of backlogged visas.
He expressed his optimism in reaching a final settlement and urged the non-signatory parties to join, and for the political process to include everyone. He stressed the need to address issues of security sector reform, transitional justice and others. He called on the authorities to stop the violence and investigate the illegal use of force.