Radio Dabanga (Hilversum)

Sudan: Displaced, Refugees, Armed Movements Welcome Head of Unamid

Darfur — Displaced, refugees and armed movements of Darfur have welcomed Mohamed Ibn Chambas as the Joint Special Representative for Darfur and Head of the African Union and United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

Speaking to Radio Dabanga on Tuesday, 25 December, Omda Ahmed Ateem, coordinator of North Darfur camps and member of the displaced and refugees association, welcomed and congratulated Chambas' appointment.

However, he stressed that displaced and refugees still perceive the mandate of UNAMID as weak, adding they believe the mission's forces "have done nothing so far".

They pointed out that peacekeepers have not reached or are not stationed in areas such as Hashaba and East Jebel Marra, where "massacres against civilians were committed".

Displaced and refugees are demanding that UNAMID's mandate changes into a "new and strong" one, which clearly protects civilians and increases the number of troops and patrols, covering "all areas in the region".

Ateem also demanded that Chambas not be "biased" in favoring the government of Sudan and be "brave" in implementing resolutions, "as opposed to what his predecessor Ibrahim Gambari did".

SLM-MM

Abdullah Mursal, spokesman of the Sudan Liberation Movement-Mini Minnawi (SLM-MM), expressed "hope" that Chambas will lead UNAMID in a better way than Gambari. The movement also hopes that he will try to achieve the mission's "basic goals".

The spokesman suggested that during Gambari's tenure, UNAMID had "completely deviated from its mandate and became closer to the government of Sudan".

He stressed this is inconsistent with the mission's policies, adding that the protection of civilians is one of its most important elements.

Mursal claimed that under Gambari, UNAMID could not move effectively towards sites where "massacres were committed by the regime", including Shawa, Hashaba, Kutum, Mellit and Nyala, because of restrictions imposed by the government of Sudan.

The movement stated that all is wants is the discontinuation of Gambari's policy under the new head of the mission, asking him to play a "major role" in activating UNAMID.

They also called on Chambas to implement the mission's mandate and support the deployment of troops from "countries not manipulated by the National Congress Party".

"Although we do not expect a significant change in the era of the new president, we do hope for a simple focus on the people of Darfur and the protection of camps and citizens subjected to all forms of ongoing violations in the region today".

JEM

Jibril Adam Bilal, spokesman of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), also welcomed Chambas and expressed hope that he will not follow the steps of his predecessor.

Bilal claimed Gambari "miserably failed in his core mission in Darfur", which was to protect civilians and conduct investigations into "crimes and massacres" committed against civilians. He also pointed out that UNAMID failed to protect its own personnel.

"Hopefully the new president will perform his assigned duties in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, prosecute criminals belonging to the National Congress militias, provide camps real protection and refrain from allowing the National Congress militias to repeat crimes committed against civilians during Gambari's era", the spokesman outlined.

Lastly, he stated that as an administrator, Chambas "must be committed to neutrality and not be biased in favor of the National Congress Party, alike Gambari".

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