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UN ‘fully mobilised’ to support the Sudanese people

April 26 - 2020 NEW YORK
Unamid peacekeepers provide protection to women farmers south of Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur (Amin Ismail / Unamid)
Unamid peacekeepers provide protection to women farmers south of Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur (Amin Ismail / Unamid)

The “exceptional circumstances” of the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted the peace process in Sudan as well as the drawing down of the United Nations mission there, according to Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for UN Peace Operations.

Lacroix assured the Security Council via video tele-conferencing on Friday that the UN is “fully mobilised” to continue supporting the Sudanese people, despite the “dire” situation his colleague Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for UN Political and Peacebuilding Affairs mentioned in her briefing to the UNSC earlier that day.

Noting progress on political reforms, accountability and women’s participation in decision-making, he said that “the Sudanese authorities and people have pushed ahead” with implementing their democratic transition, UN News reported on Friday

But, citing a March assassination attempt against Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, Lacroix said that Sudan’s trajectory change remains fragile.

The peace process

Meanwhile, civil unrest, a sharp increase in attacks against farmers by pastoralists and human rights abuses, are some obstacles to the peace process.

“These challenges underline the persistence of some of the conflict drivers in Darfur, which may go beyond the scope of the peace process and will require a heavy investment in peacebuilding”, said Lacroix.

He also spoke of “worrying developments” in West Darfur at the end of the year that left at least 65 people dead, more than 46,000 displaced, and an additional 11,000 who fled to Chad.

“It is also critical to make progress on the Darfur track of the peace process and for the population of Darfur to see peace dividends”, the Under-Secretary-General stressed.

Drawdown

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the closure of airports, seaports and land crossings along with the suspension of all peacekeeping rotations have severely impacted the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (Unamid), rendering “impractical” an effective exit by October 31.

The peacekeeping chief maintained once decided by the Council, the follow-on presence’s structure, mandate and establishment timeline would “significantly impact the sequencing and overall timeline of Unamid’s drawdown”.

Considering the enduring threats to civilians and a high anxiety level among the most vulnerable populations over Unamid’s exit, the drawdown process must be “managed carefully”, he stressed and should not signal the lack of “concerns related to the protection of civilians in Darfur”. 

New mission

The top peacekeeper underscored that the follow-on presence would aim to “preserve and consolidate the gains made over the years” and “build on the peacebuilding work” of Unamid and the UN Country Team have conducted.

“Our objective is to achieve a smooth transition to a future UN mission that can help the UN better support the Sudanese people”, he said, adding that that this entails ensuring that every mandate has the Sudanese authorities’ full support.


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