Khartoum — The Joint Special Representative for the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (Unamid), Jeremiah Mamabolo, has highlighted the positive role of the media in Darfur, and commended the Sudanese government's weapons collection programme.
"I'd like to highlight that our press/media colleagues play a significant role in building trust, giving hope and encouraging reconciliation amongst the parties to the ongoing conflict in Darfur," Special Representative Mamabolo told a press conference in Khartoum this morning.
"I would also like to commend the Government of Sudan on its ongoing weapons collection exercise that has contributed to a more secure environment in many areas. I further request the Government to continue monitoring any issues that may arise within the framework of this initiative."
Mamabolo presented the highlights of the restructuring of Unamid operations on the ground as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 2363.
"We have concluded the first phase of the mandated reconfiguration well within the timelines set by the UN Headquarters in New York and reduced our authorized ceiling for uniformed personnel to 11, 395 military and 2,888 police.
"Simultaneously, we closed and handed over to the Government of Sudan, 10 team sites and two community policing centres. The team sites include Zam Zam, Malha, Mellit, Tine and Um Kadada in North Darfur; Tulus and Eid El Fursan in South Darfur; Forobaranga and Habila in West Darfur and Muhajeria in East Darfur. Zam Zam and Abu Shouk are the community policing centres in North Darfur that were handed over."
Mamabolo said that currently, Unamid is in the process of implementing the second phase of the reconfiguration, which involves a further reduction of military personnel to 8, 735 and police personnel to 2,500 by 30 June 2018.
"Additionally, we are assessing team sites that will be handed over by the Mission's military personnel to the Formed Police Units as per UNSCR 2363. The objective is to address any outstanding infrastructure requirements in these sites.
In this context, refurbishment is currently underway at Unamid team sites in Korma and Saraf Umra, North Darfur; Masteri, West Darfur; and the El Sereif Temporary Operating Base in North Darfur.
Temporary operating base
Phase 2 of Unamid's reconfiguration also includes the establishment of a temporary operating base (TOB) at Golo, Jebel Marra, Central Darfur, Mamabolo explained, saying that the Government of Sudan has allocated a suitable location, some 2.5 kilometres from Golo town, for the temporary base.
"We are in the process of constructing the temporary base; this is expected to be completed before 30 June 2018. This location will be the lynchpin of our traditional peacekeeping tasks, bearing in mind the sporadic instability and resultant displacement in the vicinity, as well as recurrent inter-communal violence. The focus here will be on emergency relief, addressing protection needs and the safe destruction of explosive remnants of war."
Mamabolo underlined that Unamid is "mobilising all necessary resources and manpower required to complete the construction of the temporary base as soon as possible".
Mamabolo said that in other areas across Darfur, "Unamid is working in greater collaboration than ever before, with the Government of Sudan and the UN Country Team to apply a more stabilization-oriented approach.
"Some of our recent achievements in this regard include Unamid's support to the demobilisation of 494 ex-combatants from signatory movements to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and the Darfur Peace Agreement, in partnership with the Sudan DDR Commission and the World Food Programme; as well as our Quick Impact and Community Stabilization projects that contribute to infrastructure-building as well as provide vocational training to at-risk youth, thereby adding to the Sudanese government's efforts to encourage voluntary returns and promote peaceful coexistence.
"Overall, across Darfur, Unamid troops and police have demonstrated a proactive, robust posture in protecting civilians. But, as you will agree with me, peacekeeping is not an easy task, especially in light of the recurrence of violations resulting from a precarious, and sometimes volatile situation especially for IDPs. Protection issues for women and girls who are constantly attacked whilst undertaking livelihood activities remains a grave concern as well."
It is only through proactive and unified partnerships with the Government of Sudan and other UN and non-UN partners that we can achieve community safety and stabilization milestones across Darfur.
Mamabolo, who recently returned from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he briefed the African Union Peace and Security Council on the Darfur peace process lamented that "unfortunately, the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP)-led process continues to be stalled and a cessation of hostilities agreement has not been forthcoming.
"However, I have stayed in contact with the Darfur armed movements in support of President Thabo Mbeki, the lead mediator in the AUHIP-led mediation. I have sought to impress upon the leaders of the holdout movements the urgent need of signing a cessation of hostilities agreement and subsequently a political settlement to the crisis.
Mamabolo concluded that Unamid will continue to work towards this end.