nited Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (El Fasher)
Sudan: Statement by UNAMID Joint Special Representative to the UN Security Council
15 June 2010
UNAMID Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari, UNMIS Head of Mission Haile Menkerios, AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé and Chairperson of the AU Panel on Darfur Thabo Mbeki today briefed members of the UN Security Council on the most recent developments in Sudan's security, political and humanitarian situation and their effect on the peace process and the work of peacekeeping missions and the humanitarian community.
Distinguished Members of the Security Council,
I am very pleased and honoured to address you for the second time in less than one month. Unlike the previous briefing during which I had the opportunity to introduce the Secretary-General's report on the African Union - United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), this briefing is mainly on the unfolding security situation in Darfur and how it impacts on the life of the ordinary citizens, as well as its implication on the work of UNAMID and the humanitarian community. I will also comment briefly on UNAMID's engagement on the political process on the ground in Darfur in collaboration with the AUHIP and JCM Bassolé.
On May 20, I informed Council members that during the first two weeks of the month May 2010, parts of Darfur witnessed a serious escalation of hostilities between the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of Dr. Khalil Ibrahim and Government forces. It saddens me to inform you that the fighting between the two belligerent parties is still continuing, and the security situation in parts of Darfur remains tense and volatile. Following JEM's withdrawal from Jebel Moon area, JEM forces are now spread in small pockets in North and South Darfur, notably in the areas towards Southern Kordofan, engaging the government forces in offensive and defensive clashes. Of great concern is the unprecedented increase in the number of fatalities resulting from the recent clashes: 447 deaths were recorded for the month of May 2010 alone. Movements of equipment and build-up of troops continue to be witnessed on both sides, and it is expected that the military confrontations may continue for some time unless urgent efforts at ensuring a ceasefire are made by the international Community.
As members of the Council are aware, UNAMID's core mandate is focused on the Protection of Civilians. In implementing its strategy for the Protection of Civilians, UNAMID is continuing to intensify its military and police patrols through progressive increases of medium and long-range patrols, as well as strengthening joint (civilian and military) 24/7 patrolling to selected IDP Camps. New directives have also been recently issued to the Military and Police Components with regard to robust patrolling and response to attacks on our military and police personnel. As part of this new strategy and with a view to making this activity more effective and efficient, UNAMID is planning, in collaboration with the relevant GoS authorities, to assist in opening up more roads and rehabilitating others, in order to increase access and expand the scope for the mission's protection mandate. These actions are being taken in coordination with other protection actors such as the UNHCR and UNICEF. Meanwhile, UNAMID continues to provide full assistance as well as logistics support to the Humanitarian Community to expand humanitarian space and access.
The recent upsurge in fighting has created very serious hindrances to the effective implementation of UNAMID's protection mandate, as well as to the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in dire need of such support and assistance. Since the renewed fighting began, civilian populations have moved away from the locations of fighting and aerial bombardments; from Jebel Moon, they moved towards the Chadian border and the areas east of Jebel Moon as well as some urban centres including El Fasher; from the hot spots in Jebel Marra and South Darfur, they went into hiding in more secure locations around these respective areas. As a result of denial of access, logistics constraints and security concerns, it has not been possible to determine exact numbers but the figures for displaced persons as a result of recent fighting range between 10,000 and 50,000 in the region. Of greatest concern is the continuing denial of access to the humanitarian community to large parts of Jebel Marra since the onset of fighting there in February 2010. An assessment mission to the lowlands of East Jebel Marra took place beginning of April but follow up has to date been impossible due to the worsening of the security situation, and due to lack of access to both GoS and SLA-AW controlled areas. Overall, these new displacements are posing great challenges in terms of delivery of humanitarian assistance and provision of basic services to those in need. I wish to note that there was no fighting in the past week and that JEM has indicated willingness to release additional prisoners of war in its custody.
UNAMD continues to engage in on-going negotiations with the GoS authorities and the armed movements to ensure wider access, including humanitarian assessment missions, to the deep field locations where increased violence and displacement has been witnessed. On 10 June (last Thursday) I met with VP Ali Osman Taha and raised with him the very serious concerns of both UNAMID and the humanitarian community on the restrictions of access by security agencies to areas of recent clashes and thus prevented access to affected populations and other displaced and wounded persons in this location. I am pleased to note that shortly after our meeting, the Government of Sudan (GoS) has given appropriate instructions to the relevant agencies to allow, immediately and wherever possible, access to both UNAMID and the humanitarian agencies. It was also agreed, at my follow- up meeting at the Foreign Ministry that a meeting will be held shortly between UNAMID, the Sudanese Armed Forces and the National Intelligence and Security Services to discuss these issues and carry them further. I have accordingly instructed the Force Commander to follow up on this immediately. I am informed that the Government of Sudan has lifted the ban on helicopter flights as of yesterday, 13 June 2010. We shall provide information on developments in this matter as they unfold to the Council through appropriate channels.
It is essential for the international community and in particular for those States with leverage on the belligerents to impress on them the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities accompanied by unfettered and unhindered access by UNAMID, the UNCT and humanitarian agencies to all areas of recent clashes in order to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance to the affected populations and displaced persons. Only by so doing will the security situation facilitate and enhance the possibility for a negotiated settlement through the Doha peace process, on which my colleague, Djibril Bassolé will shortly be briefing the Council. It is essential to reiterate to all concerned that there can be no military solution to the Darfur crisis and only a return to negotiations is the only viable option.
Distinguished Members of the Council,
Let me now briefly turn to the other issue on your agenda relating to complementary political process in Darfur. One of UNAMID's mandated task is to support and assist the Joint Chief Mediator in his work to bring the parties as well as the stakeholders together to agree on a comprehensive peace agreement. In this regard, coordination and collaboration between UNAMID and the JMST at all levels is going on smoothly. UNAMID has a key role to play with respect to civil society input into the ongoing talks, the design of ceasefire implementation mechanisms and implementation of agreements. As part of this collaboration, UNAMID now has the responsibility to organize and lead, along with the AUHIP, a Darfur Regional Conference, to facilitate public agreement on issues related to the peace process. The conference aims to facilitate the achievement of an inclusive and comprehensive political settlement for Darfur by or before the end of the year in advance of the 'self-determination' referendum for southern Sudan. While coordination in this regard is currently on- going with both the AUHIP and the Mediation, UNAMID is finalizing plans to ensure that all the diverse groups and populations of Darfur are given the opportunity to make substantial inputs to the negotiations and outcome of discussions on the future of their region and on their future.
Distinguished Members of the Security Council,
This is where we are at the present time in Darfur. I do hope that the Council will, after its deliberations on these important and topical issues, provide support and guidance to our work in our collective efforts to bring peace and stability to the whole of the Sudan as Darfur cannot be considered in isolation from the rest of the Sudan. In addition to support and action in bringing current fighting in Darfur to an end and encouraging all the parties, including those who are still outside of the Doha process to join, support of the Council will also be needed in encouraging those Member States that are in a position to do so to provide critical enablers to UNAMID to enhance its effectiveness in implementing its mandate. These include the provision of Medium Utility helicopters, Transport Company and aerial Reconnaissance Units. I am sure we can count on the continuing support of this distinguished Council on these matters.
I thank you for your attention.