Sudanese mercenaries in Libya, funded by the United Arab Emirates, represented the main source of income for most of the armed movements in Darfur during 2021, according to the annual report by the UN Panel of Experts on Sudan to the Security Council that was published on Friday.
The report highlights: “Mercenary activities in Libya had been the major source of financing for most Darfur movements, however, due to international pressure and diminished pay-out from Libyan counterparts, the signatory movements progressively returned to Darfur. Some members of the armed groups in Darfur profited from local and cross-border criminal activities, and the artisanal gold mines in Jebel Marra were a major source of financing for SLA/AW. Some movements signatory to the [Juba Peace] Agreement were looking at gold-mining in Darfur as a source of potential revenue. Though an important source of revenue and employment, if not managed properly, artisanal mining could lead to local tensions and violence in Darfur.”
The report confirms that the activities of Sudanese mercenaries funded by the UAE in Libya and also confirms the continued violation of the arms embargo last year “by transferring weapons and other types of military equipment to Darfur.”
It adds that the five main movements (the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi, the Sudan Liberation Forces Assembly, the Sudan Liberation Army-Transitional Council, the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid Nur and the Sudanese Revolutionary Awakening Council) received payments and logistical support.
According to the report, several sources within these movements said that the issue of funds and support was discussed and agreed upon in meetings between their military leaders and representatives of the UAE in Libya.
According to experts, the payments were provided by the United Arab Emirates and transferred to the movements through Haftar’s forces, which took a share of them.
The report stated that “in response to allegations of possible financial or military support for Darfur forces (both in Sudan and Libya), the United Arab Emirates indicated the moderate position of its country and its fight against extremism and hate speech,” referring to the meeting of experts with the UAE authorities in November 2021.
The report also states that the Sudanese government participated in the activities of the so-called “5 + 5” joint military committee, which includes representatives from eastern and western Libya to ensure the continuation of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of fighters and foreign forces from the country.
The experts explained that many of the “small groups (of Sudanese mercenaries) operating in Libya” have “the will to engage in peace talks and return to Sudan,” and recommended the international community “provide funds to Sudan and other relevant countries” in order to “avoid destabilising the region.”