The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) has extended the mandate of the joint African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (Unamid) for 12 months, following “drastic change in security and political developments in Sudan”.
The Council also called on Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) to ‘immediately and unconditionally’ rescind the decree made on Thursday for Unamid to hand over its assets to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan’s main government militia.
In a communiqué following the AUPSC’s 856th meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Thursday, the Council confirms that it “rejects the TMC Decree Number 102 issued on May 13, which calls for the Unamid to hand over assets to the RSF”.
The AU Council reminds the TMC that “the [drawdown] agreement was aimed at handing over these assets to civilian institutions to assist the recovery and development of Darfur.”
The AU has extended the mandate of Unamid for twelve 12 months, and requests the UN Security Council to do the same.
June 3 crackdown
As reported by Radio Dabanga yesterday, the AUPSC meeting heard from UN Peacekeeping chief, Jean Pierre Lacroix, that the bloody June 3 military crackdown in the capital Khartoum, had highlighted the central role of the Darfur-linked Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which are reportedly made up largely of former Janjaweed militia, which has been accused of serious human rights abuses.
Lacroix said that the ruling TMC, which led the violent break-up of pro-democracy protests in the capital earlier this month, decreed on 13 May, that Unamid “hand over all ‘camps’ to the RSF, which is in contravention to the UN rules and procedures.”
“Given these developments, we have had no choice but to suspend the handover of Unamid sites to the Sudanese authorities until the TMC decree is rescinded”, he told members.
The RSF, commanded by Maj Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ who is now also vice-president of the TMC, is widely accused of genocide and a litany of atrocities across Darfur.
In its new communiqué, the AUPSC says it rejects TMC Decree Number 102 issued on May 13, and calls on the TMC to rescind the degree “immediately, without conditions”.
It also demands that the TMC allow Unamid to hand over identified assets to civilian entities, underscoring that “Unamid assets disposal will only be carried out in accordance with UN administrative rules and regulations, as well as relevant decisions of the UN and the AU”.
Drastic change in Sudan
In the communiqué, the Council expresses its deep concern over the drastic change in security and political developments in Sudan which has contributed to the deterioration of the security situation in Darfur and has the potential to directly impact the achievements that have been witnessed in Darfur.
It “deplores the loss of innocent lives which took place in recent days in Zalingei, Darfur and expresses its condolences to the families of the deceased; further wishes a speedy recovery to the injured persons.”
The AUPSC also voiced concern over the safety of the civilians and Unamid staff in Darfur: “In this regard [the Council] reaffirms the imperative for [the government of] Sudan to ensure the full protection of civilians and respect for human rights and freedoms in Sudan;
Looting of UN property
The Council strongly condemns and totally rejects attacks and looting of the Unamid and UN Agencies properties and reminds the Sudan government of its primary responsibility to provide protection to both the civilian population and the UN property and calls on the government to investigate and bring to account the people that carried out these crimes;
Commends the work done by the Unamid Joint Special Representative and his team in implementing the PSC decisions and the UN Security Council resolutions on the continued implementation of the Unamid mandate and the drawdown of the Mission.
‘Unamid exit should not create a vacuum and expose the long suffering civilian population to renewed risks’
Withdrawal from Darfur
Unamid, mandated by the UN Security Council by its resolution 2429 (2018) was scheduled to withdraw from South Darfur this month. The mission planned to exit Darfur entirely by June 2020.
After handing over team sites and headquarters to the Sudanese authorities in the past months, the mission’s new headquarters in Zalingei are now fully operational. The office of the Joint Special Representative Jeremiah Mamabolo has relocated to Khartoum.
The overriding condition for the handover of Unamid assets is that they are used for civilian purposes.
In the communiqué, the Council reiterates its conviction that “Unamid exit should not create a vacuum and expose the long suffering civilian population to renewed risks” and therefore stresses that “Unamid should not, in any circumstances, hand over security responsibility to the RSF as decided by the TMC”.
Drawdown and liquidation
The Council has decided that given the unfolding situation in Sudan, the drawdown and liquidation process should be carried out with the closure of eight team sites that are no longer active. Unamid troops should be relocated to the remaining team sites which have been identified as security hot spots, until such a time that the situation stabilised, with a view to consolidate the remaining mission strength in order to continue protecting the civilians under threat;
The AU and UN, together with Unamid should reconsider the number of civilian staff to ensure that they are commensurate with the requirement of the current mandate implementation; and the AU Commission and the UN Secretariat are to develop a political strategy that helps address the remaining political challenges, in consultation with the African Union High Level Panel (AUHIP), Unamid and the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, the AUPSC communiqué concludes.
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