Sudan: UNITAMS Head to Visit Sudan Next Week

Khartoum — The head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) will arrive in Khartoum next week. UNITAMS main office will be based in Khartoum with regional offices throughout Sudan.

The Chairman of the National Committee for Cooperation and Coordination with UNITAMS said in a press statement yesterday that Volker Perthes, representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and head of UNITAMS, will arrive next week.

He explained that the mission will consist of "16 components" with 269 employees in total. 12 of these offices will be run by foreign employees and four by Sudan.

The UNITAMS main office will be based in Khartoum with regional offices in Darfur (El Fasher, Zalingei, Nyala), South Kordofan (Kadugli, Kauda), Blue Nile state, (Ed Damazin), and eastern Sudan (Kassala, Port Sudan).

The four main tasks of UNITAMS are "to support the world's recognition of Sudan's exit from its isolation, to assist Sudan in the transition process to democratic governance, to support the implementation of the peacebuilding process, and to mobilise international resources to help Sudan's economic growth," he said.

The UN has allocated $ 34 million for the first year's budget.

On June 3 last year, the UN Security Council (UNSC) decided on the establishment of UNITAMS in response to an official request by the Sudanese government to provide a Chapter VI peace support operation to Sudan. The request was sent to the UN Secretary-General on February 27,

At the time, Sudan's Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok explained that his government "requested assistance in the form of a mission that helps us to address transition issues, chief among which is financing the implementation of the peace agreements that are imminent, such as the establishment of schools and hospitals... Something similar to the Marshall Plan".

The UNITAMS mission was partly called into life to replace the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The peacekeeping mission was tasked with the protection of civilians in the region, humanitarian assistance, political mediation, and community conflict mediation in conjunction with UN country team.

Though the mission has been criticised more than once for not being able to fulfil its mandate, many want UNAMID to stay because of the continuing insecurity.

A group of 98 Sudanese civil society activists, however, urged the PM in May last year to add 'physical protection' to his request for a new UN mission. The activists doubted if Sudan is able to protect its citizens 1.5 years after the ousting of former dictator Omar Al Bashir.

This doubt was reflected by Amnesty International in December when they urged the UN Security Council to extend the mandate of UNAMID by at least six months, "in light of failure by government security forces to protect civilians in recent months".

However, the mission's mandate officially ended on December 31 and its gradual withdrawal has started.

In Darfur, the exit of UNAMID stirred up many protests as many fear as well that, with the mission leaving, the insecurity will increase again.

January has seen widespread violence in Darfur, most significantly the massacre in El Geneina that left 163 dead, confirming people's fears.

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