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UN delegates discuss Unamid drawdown during Darfur visit

February 12 - 2019 KHARTOUM
On 11 February 2019, Bintou Keita, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco and Mourad Wahba of the United Nations met with in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Elham Ahmed and government representatives. They discussed issues related to the eventual exit of Unamid (Amin Ismail/Unamid)
On 11 February 2019, Bintou Keita, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco and Mourad Wahba of the United Nations met with in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Elham Ahmed and government representatives. They discussed issues related to the eventual exit of Unamid (Amin Ismail/Unamid)

A recent high-level United Nations (UN) delegation visit to Sudan discussed the transition of the UN’s engagement in Darfur against the backdrop of the exit of the peacekeeping mission Unamid.

On Tuesday, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Bintou Keita, the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Development Programme, Mourad Wahba, and the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco concluded a three-day visit to Sudan.

From 9 to 11 February, they visited Darfur where they engaged with local and State authorities, native administration, displaced people and Civil Society among others “in order to ensure a smooth transition of peace-building tasks from Unamid to UN agencies, programmes and funds and the relevant authorities of the Government of Sudan”, a UN statement reads today.

On 11 February, the delegation returned to Khartoum where they met with the Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Elham Ahmed and a high level delegation from all Government bodies working with Unamid.

The discussions revolved around issues related to the transition and eventual exit of Unamid by June 2020. Resolution 2429 (2018) and the mandate of Unamid continues until June 2019 as it prepares to draw down from Darfur entirely in 2020.

‘The responsibility of achieving peace, stability and development for the people of Darfur lies with the government while all other entities can play a supporting role’, the three assistant secretary-generals said in the statement.

Unamid Joint Special Representative (JSR) Jeremiah Mamabolo confirmed this month that the full withdrawal of the mission from South Darfur is set for June this year. The headquarters of the mission have been moved from North Darfur to Zalingei in Central Darfur as it continues to hand over its team sites to the Sudanese government.

The visit on February 10 in Sortony, North Darfur (Mohamad Elmahady/Unamid)

Insecurity

Until the reduction of its troops, the mission was the largest peacekeeping mission worldwide, mandated to bring stability to the war-torn region of Darfur.

In December, Mamabolo pointed out that the region has seen improved security but still witnesses fresh waves of displacement. “With a significant emphasis in Jebel Mara where intermittent hostilities between non-state armed groups and regular forces continue to directly affect civilians in the area.”

In January, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres reported that the recent security situation in Darfur was “relatively stable”.

Darfur displaced, Sudanese politicians, and international activists have all warned for the consequences of a downsizing of the number of peacekeepers for the people in Darfur. According to the Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG), the UN and AU decision was based on “a flawed analysis of the current security and political situation in Darfur”. Human rights organisation Amnesty International recently warned for the consequences of further downsizing of Unamid.


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