Darfur Briefing and Consultations
On Monday (25 January), the Council will be briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), followed by consultations. The briefing is expected to focus on the Secretary-General’s 24 December 2015 UNAMID report (S/2015/1027), as well as developments related to Darfur since the report’s release.
Ladsous will give an overview of the security, humanitarian and political situations in Darfur. Inter-communal violence and fighting between the government and rebel forces continues to be a problem, although the Secretary-General’s December 2015 UNAMID report states that the number of clashes had decreased in the reporting period (25 September to 15 December 2015). One concern raised in the report is the increase in “incidents of attack, harassment and intimidation of civilians, including IDPs…especially in North and West Darfur.” In most cases, according to the report, those responsible were reportedly “armed men associated with nomadic Arab tribes.”
Members will be interested in an update on current conflict dynamics, as there have been additional clashes in different parts of Darfur since the Secretary-General’s report was released. Council members may want information on the attack earlier this month by an unidentified armed militia on Mouli, a village in West Darfur, as well as the subsequent deadly clashes between government forces and protestors in the West Darfur state capital, El Geneina. There may also be interest in an update on the fighting in recent days in Central Darfur between government forces and armed groups, and on how UNAMID and its partners are addressing the protection and humanitarian needs of civilians.
The dire humanitarian situation will probably be a key focus. There are now approximately 2.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur. The confirmed number of newly displaced persons was 100,000 in 2015, although the actual figure was probably much higher.
Humanitarian access continues to be a problem for UNAMID. Ladsous may speak about this in the broader context of operational restrictions that have been placed on the mission. These include restrictions on the movement of mission personnel and denial of visa requests in the Human Rights Section, the Protection of Civilians Section, the Security Section, and other areas. According to the Secretary-General’s report, customs clearances for supplies important for the mission’s operation—including aviation safety equipment, helicopter parts, and electrical equipment— have been delayed. Members may be interested in an update on whether progress has been made in obtaining the necessary customs clearances and in transporting these supplies to the mission. They may also want to know whether additional visas have been granted by the government for UNAMID staff who are required to help the mission operate effectively.
Operational constraints on UNAMID are a significant concern for many members. In October 2015, when Sudan blocked the transport of cargo containers of food and other supplies to the mission, Ambassador Román Oyarzun of Spain, in his capacity as president of the Security Council that month, met with the Sudan permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed, and requested that the containers be transported to Darfur. As a result of this and other diplomatic efforts, a large number of those containers were released on 10 November 2015.
The political process in Darfur will most likely be an important part of the discussion. From 19 to 23 November 2015, the AU High-Level Implementation Panel mediated peace talks in Addis Ababa between the government of Sudan and two Darfur rebel groups, the SLA-Minni Minnawi (SLA-MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The talks ended unsuccessfully. Members may want an update on efforts that have been made since then to reengage the parties in dialogue.
Another issue that will probably be raised on Monday is the exit strategy for UNAMID. This has been a contentious issue in the Council. Some members have emphasised the importance of tying the exit strategy to the mission’s benchmarks, which focus on issues such as the protection of civilians, humanitarian access and the prevention and mitigation of communal conflict. Others have preferred not to emphasise the conditionality of the exit strategy, and believe that enhanced efforts need to be made to negotiate the exit strategy with the government in a respectful manner. This may be an opportunity for Ladsous to discuss efforts that have been made by the UN and other actors to engage with the government on the exit strategy.