UN peacekeeping chief reports ‘limited progress on Darfur conflict’
Against the backdrop of renewed military confrontation, the political process to resolve the conflict in Darfur through dialogue remains fragmented with limited progress, the United Nations peacekeeping chief informed the UN Security Council on Monday.
“Major armed movements and opposition parties continue to boycott the current national dialogue framework,” the Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, told the 15-member body during a briefing on the situation in Darfur.
Since the last report submitted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in December, fighting between rebel and the government forces has resumed in the Jebel Marra area, the latter with the support of the Sudanese Air Force.
Ladsous said that 7,900 civilians, mainly women and children, have sought refuge around the Unamid base at Sortoni in North Darfur; Unamid put the number at 8,403 civilians in a press statement yesterday.
“Despite the extension of the unilateral ceasefire by President [Omar Al] Bashir in the region of Jebel Marra, incidents occurred, aerial bombardments resumed, and clashes between governmental forces and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW) intensified in January,” the UN peacekeeping chief stressed. He reiterated his concern about the impact of the renewed upsurge in fighting on civilians.
Following the morning briefing, Hassan Hamid Hassan, Permanent Representative of Sudan, told reporters that he disagreed with the peacekeeping chief on the issue of fighting in Jebel Marra. He emphasised that the SLM-AW has rejected a political settlement and responded to Al Bashir’s unilateral ceasefire by attacking villages in East Jebel Marra.
Attacks on mission
Ladsous explained that the insecure situation in the region limited an inter-agency relief mission to Anka, and humanitarian assistance had to be delivered by air drops. In the north of Darfur, troops from the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (Unamid) were shot at twice. ‘Once by the SLM-AW faction while trying to recover a stolen UN World Food Programme truck, and a second time by Arab militias while protecting a top UN official during a trip to Anka,’ writes the UN News Centre.
“It is regrettable that Abdel Wahid has been absent from [the recent informal talks between the government and rebel movements] and we call upon him to participate constructively in the efforts to find a resolution to the conflict,” Ladsous pointed out.
During informal meetings between the government, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minawi in Ethiopia over the weekend, little progress was made toward reaching a settlement.
Rebel leader Minawi told this station that the informal negotiation round witnessed minor breakthroughs, however, “such as direct talks with government representatives without the presence of a broker, the exchange of the positions of the other party, and the agreement to assign military experts to deal with technical issues relating to the location of the movements”.
Ladsous also voiced his regret that the visa situation remains precarious, “with no major improvement in its overall status.” Since the last report to the Security Council, Khartoum rejected another seven visa requests, including four involving substantive civilian functions and one for the post of Senior Joint Operations Officer.
(Source: UN News Centre)
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