Addis Ababa — The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) has decided to extend the mandate the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (Unamid) for 12 months.
The decision was announced via a communiqué following the Council's 778th meeting held in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa yesterday, following consideration of the Joint Special Report of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The council refers to the strategic review of Unamid, which was undertaken to Khartoum and Darfur from 2 to 13 April 2018, as well as of the introductory remarks by Acting Director for Peace and Security, Dr Admore Kambudzi delivered on behalf of Ambassador Smail Chergui, the Commissioner for Peace and Security, and the presentation provided by the Joint Special Representative (JSR) of Unamid, Ambassador Jeremiah Kingsley Mamabolo.
In communiqué, the Council "encourages all parties to the conflict, especially the armed movements, to recommit to the political process on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). In this light, Council also urges those countries that are hosting the armed movements to commit to the peaceful search for a lasting solution in the Darfur region. Council underscores that such commitments, pave the way for cessation of hostilities agreement and direct negotiations."
Jebel Marra attacks
The council also "expresses grave concern over the recent outbreak of clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid and Government security forces in the Jebel Marra area and the attacks in Tarantara and Kara in South Darfur, which resulted in reports of burning of a number of villages and the displacement of civilians. Council condemns these attacks in the strongest terms possible and calls on the Government of Sudan to grant access to Unamid personnel to carry out independent verification of such incidents;
"Notes with deep concern the humanitarian situation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the camps and urges the Government of Sudan and the international community to redouble their efforts to ensure that the IDPs are supplied with basic needs and guaranteed voluntarily return to their home lands in a peacefully manner. Council emphasizes that the humanitarian situation in Darfur remains a major concern and the recent fighting lends credence to these concerns.
"Council urges the Government of Sudan and the humanitarian actors to work together in order to ensure unhindered and unrestricted, timely access to the affected population. Furthermore, Council expresses grave concern over heightened reports of sexual violence in Darfur and calls on the Government of Sudan to engage in full investigation on these reports and to immediately bring the perpetrators to book."
The council urges the government of Sudan and the Darfur armed movements to exercise maximum restraint and thus cease and desist from engaging in deadly clashes as they continue to cause unnecessary deaths and displace civilians.
It also notes with grave concern the difficulties faced by returning populations in gaining access to their lands and engaging in gainful livelihood activities.
The Council acknowledges that for sustainable returns to take place in Darfur, concerted efforts will need to be exerted towards addressing the root causes of the conflict, particularly security and land ownership, as well delivery of public services. Council thus appeals to the Government of Sudan to ensure that returning communities do so voluntarily in safety and dignity, in line with existing international standards.
While welcoming the proposal by the Special Report of the Secretary General and the AU Commission Chairperson that Unamid would exit on 30 June 2020 and its liquidation be completed by December 2020, Council notes, however, that consideration should be given to: Ensuring a gradual drawdown that would allow the Mission's exit to be guided by the political and security situation on the ground so as not to create a security vacuum and expose civilian populations; the area of operation for Unamid should be retained as the whole geographic Darfur given the fact that the Mission retains the responsibility to protect civilians under threat in the entire region of Darfur;