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UNITAMS head to UNSC: 'Sudan humanitarian crisis, insecurity at record levels'

September 15 - 2022 NEW YORK
Volker Perthes, UN Special Representative for Sudan, and head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) addresses the UN Security Council in New York 2021 (Photo: UN)
Volker Perthes, UN Special Representative for Sudan, and head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) addresses the UN Security Council in New York 2021 (Photo: UN)

"Sudan has seen new political developments but also a continued deterioration of the socio-economic situation” Volker Perthes, UN Special Representative for Sudan and head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), told the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday. Perthes also shared his concerns over the growing “security incidents affecting civilians” across the country.

“The overall situation will continue to worsen unless a political situation is found to restore a credible, fully functioning civilian-led government”, Perthes told the Security Council, cautioning that for the current impasse to be broken, it is reliant upon a government that can re-establish a path towards democratic transition in Sudan.

The UN representative stated that over the past 10 months, the recurrent protests against the coup have seen “117 people killed, and thousands injured in the context of these protests”, Perthes said.

Sudan’s burgeoning humanitarian crisis was a main point of contention for the UNITAMS head, stating that the situation is at “record levels due to the combination of ongoing political instability, economic crisis, a rise in intercommunal violence, poor harvests, and now floods”, he said. Adding that, “11.7 million people are facing acute hunger and this number is growing”.

Perthes expressed his worries due to the fact that whilst the UN and partner organisations managed to reach “7.1 million people in need since January”, Sudan’s 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan “is only funded at 32 per cent, less than a third”, he lamented.

To combat this, Perthes stated that work being done by the UN to “strengthen community stabilisation efforts and resilience building”, has integrated “programmatic approaches supported by the Peacebuilding Fund” to address risks induced by climate change and food insecurity in Darfur.

'Elements of the former regime which were displaced by the revolution are gradually returning to the political scene, to the administration, and to the public space'

Developments with the political process in Sudan

The UN representative reserved hope over the President of the Sovereign Council Gen Abdelfattah Burhan’s withdrawal from politics galvanising change, due to the momentum generated among civilian forces, “and four/five major initiatives aimed at reaching a common ‘civilian’ vision” emerging in response, he said.

Sudan’s Bar Association’s draft transitional constitution framework to the Trilateral Mechanism was a marker for such hope, as their draft was “explicitly endorsed by the parties behind two other major initiatives, which means that the Bar Association initiative now gathers a broad spectrum of civilian forces around one vision, including the parties of the Forces for Freedom and Change-Central Council”, Perthes stated.

Perthes recounted the work being done by the Trilateral Mechanism in their efforts to engage with all initiatives.

'There is also consensus that the issue of transitional justice needs to be high on the list of priorities'

“We have facilitated meaningful participation of women; we have provided constitutional expertise to those who have requested such assistance; and we are currently in the process of comparing the constitutional and political visions that have been issued.”

The UN representative also said he was “encouraged by the degree of commonality in the current debate in Sudan”. Saying that, there “is wide-ranging consensus now, among other things, on the need for a civilian head of state, an independent prime minister, and a cabinet of experts or technocrats, not party leaders”, he stated.

'Surge of violence in Darfur and the Blue Nile'

Perthes spoke to the Security Council on the instability in Khartoum contributing to the “particularly worrisome” insecurity in Darfur and the Blue Nile, due to the junta stalemate pausing “peace talks between the government and the SPLM/N in the summer of 2021”.

He said that from May to August, “UNITAMS documented 40 incidents of intercommunal violence resulting in the deaths of more than 300 civilians”.

Perthes concluded his UN address by saying that the Trilateral Mechanism were steadfast in their efforts, and that he counted on the “Security Council and the broader international community” to back their efforts in offering coordinated support to Sudan at this crucial moment in time.


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