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Sudan: Meeting under “Any Other Business”

Tomorrow (27 April), following the open briefing and closed consultations on the Great Lakes region, Security Council members will discuss the situation in Sudan under “any other business”. The meeting was requested by the UK (the penholder on Sudan), together with Albania, France, Ireland, Norway, and the US, in response to the escalation of violence reported in West Darfur state. Special Representative for Sudan and head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) Volker Perthes is expected to brief.

Perthes is expected to update members on the latest developments in West Darfur. According to a 25 April OCHA Flash Update, armed clashes began on 22 April between Arab and Masalit communities in Kereneik locality, following the reported killing of two Arabs in Kereneik town by unknown assailants. The violence then spread to El Geneina town, West Darfur’s capital. The clashes resulted in an unverified number of people reportedly being killed and injured as well as the reported displacement of thousands of others. According to media reports, on 24 April, hundreds of fighters attacked Kereneik town, killing at least 150 people and burning homes, a police station, a hospital and a market. OCHA’s Flash Update notes that “humanitarian organisations will verify the number of people displaced and assess their immediate needs for the response as soon as the security situation allows” and that “as a result of the fighting and insecurity, World Food Programme food distributions scheduled this week will be suspended”.

In a 24 April statement, Perthes deplored “the heinous killings of civilians in Kereneik, West Darfur as well as the attacks on health facilities”. He called for an immediate end to the violence and an in-depth and transparent investigation, and emphasised the urgent need for free, safe and unhindered humanitarian access. On 25 April, Secretary-General António Guterres released a statement similarly deploring the killings of civilians, calling for an immediate end to violence as well as “unhindered humanitarian access and an independent investigation of this and other acts of intercommunal violence”.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Perthes may describe steps that the Sudanese government has taken in response to the violence. Among other things, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) deployed a battalion from Nyala, South Darfur, to El Geneina and committed to evacuating injured civilians, as noted in Perthes’ 24 April statement. Members may also be keen to receive information on the status of the joint security-keeping force in Darfur, agreed to in the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) and planned to number 12,000 troops, which has yet to be deployed. The Secretary-General’s latest report on UNITAMS, dated 2 March, called on the Sudanese authorities and relevant armed movement signatories to expedite the implementation of transitional security arrangements stipulated in the JPA, including the full establishment and completion of training of the joint security-keeping force in Darfur (S/2022/172).

Council members will also be interested in hearing more from Perthes about UNITAMS’ work in West Darfur. He may refer to the visit by the Head of UNITAMS’ Regional Office in Darfur, Abimbola Aina, to El Geniena town from 30 March to 4 April to assess the security and humanitarian situations. According to a 14 April statement, Aina said that “UNITAMS and the United Nations Country Team’s relevant agencies are working closely on initiatives regarding peacebuilding programs, including bringing together rival communities to reach a durable solution for the communal conflict, engaging all stakeholders in the state to bring about sustainable development and lasting peace in the area”. Perthes may also note that UNITAMS is establishing a sub-office in West Darfur and that the mission is supporting the implementation of security arrangements in Darfur through the Darfur Permanent Ceasefire Committee, which UNITAMS chairs.

Perthes last briefed the Council on 28 March, where he said that “intercommunal conflict in Darfur has intensified”, adding that in March, at least 48 people were killed and more than 12,000 were displaced by intercommunal conflict in Jebel Moon in West Darfur (S/PV.9006). Looking ahead, the Council will receive a briefing on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on UNITAMS in May.

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