The US ambassador to the United Nations says she is “appalled” after UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, Volker Perthes, was prevented from delivering his regular brief to the UN Security Council on Wednesday, following “outrageous” and “unacceptable” threats by the Sudanese government to expel UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) should he do so.
As UNITAMS head, Perthes,must report to the council on the situation in Sudan every 90 days. Wednesday’s meeting of the UNSC was convened to discuss the continued conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The briefing was ultimately provided by the Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, and the Director of Operations and Advocacy at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Edem Wosornu.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting US Representative to the UN, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, reflected on the briefing as sobering: “a conflict that has gone on for over 100 days – and has turned large swaths of Sudan into a living hell. The stories and the images coming out of Sudan, especially out of Darfur, are bone-chilling,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
‘The stories and the images coming out of Sudan, especially out of Darfur, are bone-chilling…’
However Thomas-Greenfield condemned the fact that SRSG Perthes was compelled to withdraw from addressing the meeting.
“We had expected that SRSG Perthes was going to brief the Council. We now know that the Sudanese government threatened to end the UN Mission in Sudan if the SRSG participated in this briefing. And that was really outrageous,” she said. “No country should be able to bully a briefer into silence, let alone the United Nations.”
‘No country should be able to bully a briefer into silence, let alone the United Nations’
In her statement, Thomas-Greenfield laments: “One of the worst chapters of recent history is repeating itself. And it’s beyond horrifying. The Security Council, and the entire international community, has a responsibility to demand the parties comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians. We have a responsibility to ensure humanitarian assistance can reach people in dire need. And we have a responsibility to urge the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces to immediately put down their weapons.
“At this perilous moment, the Security Council and all Member States must stand on the side of peace, and on the right side of history. Let us do everything in our power to end the bloodshed. Sudan’s political future belongs to the Sudanese people – not to the men with guns who are prolonging human suffering.”
‘We have seen this kind of violence being perpetrated by both sides. So, there are no innocents here…’
Asked who is to blame for the suffering in Sudan, Thomas-Greenfield said: “It’s all over the country. We have seen this kind of violence being perpetrated by both sides. So, there are no innocents here.”
Regarding the pressure on Perthes not to deliver the briefing in person, she said “we were appalled by it, it was outrageous, it was unacceptable.”
The relationship with the UNITAMS head and the Sudanese government has been tenuous recently, after the Sudanese Foreign Ministry informed UN Secretary-General António Guterres in June, that Perthes has been declared persona non grata in Sudan. The UN pointed out that this is contrary to the obligations of States under the Charter of the United Nations.
Perthes was interviewed by Radio Dabanga in Addis Ababa in May, and told Radio Dabanga that since the outbreak of the war between the SAF and the paramilitary RSF on April 15, he is in constant communication with both parties to the conflict, including El Burhan and RSF leader Lt Gen Mohamed ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo.