New York / Saraf Omra — UN Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned the looting of the former team site of the United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in Saraf Omra in North Darfur. As reported by Radio Dabanga last week, the site was ransacked and 'levelled' by looters on February 17, just weeks after it was handed over to the Sudanese government.
In a statement via his spokesman from New York today, Guterres laments that "at a time when community needs in Sudan are increasingly pressing, the site was intended to serve as a vocational training centre; unknown assailants have dashed that opportunity".
The Secretary-General's statement calls on the Sudanese authorities to investigate the incident and ensure sufficient security presences for subsequent handovers so that facilities are preserved for civilian use.
Witnesses from Saraf Omra told Radio Dabanga last week that the looters specifically targeted the UNAMID installations and that the site was "levelled with the ground". All buildings and offices used by the Jordanian battalion that was in charge of the site before it handed over to the Sudanese government on January 21 have reportedly been destroyed.
'At a time when community needs in Sudan are increasingly pressing, the site was intended to serve as a vocational training centre; unknown assailants have dashed that opportunity' - UN Secretary-General António Guterres
The handover of Saraf Omra Team Site was part of the UNAMID drawdown process that is in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2559 (2020), which terminated the mission's mandate as of 31 December 2020 and authorised a six-month period for the mission to complete the withdrawal of all uniformed and civilian personnel by 30 June 2021
According to a statement at the time by UNAMID, at the handover ceremony, the Executive Director of Saraf Omra Locality, Native Administration, and Civil Society Organisations representatives, all affirmed that the former Team Site was to be used as a vocational training centre to be freely utilised by the whole community for educational and empowerment purposes in the locality. Furthermore, at the time, the local representatives appealed to their community, including security agencies, to work together to protect the gifted team site and assets for the benefit of the local population.
On February 16, UNAMID handed over its team site in Khor Abeche locality, South Darfur, to the Government of Sudan. The handover documents were signed by the Wali (governor) of South Darfur Mousa Mahdi on behalf of the Government of Mousa Mahdi, Houston Fergusson, Director of Mission Support Division, on behalf of UNAMID.
UNAMID, the joint United Nations-African Union force began its mission in 2007. The UN Security Council (UNSC) decided on the establishment of UNITAMS on June 3 last year, in response to the official request of the Sudanese government sent to the UN Secretary General on February 27, to provide a Chapter VI peace support operation to Sudan,
On the same day, the Security Council also extended the mandate of the hybrid United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) until December 31, 2020, after which the peacekeepers will definitely leave Sudan.