Briefing to the Security Council on UNAMID by ASG Mulet : 24 October 2012
Distinguished Council Members,
1. I am pleased to have the opportunity to brief the Security Council today on the recent developments in Darfur based on the latest progress report of the Secretary-General on UNAMID issued on 16 October, which is before you.
2. Since the issuance of the Secretary-General’s report, there have been some developments in the peace process in Darfur . From 17 October the acting UNAMID Joint Special Representative, Ms. Aichatou Souleymane Mindaoudou, in her capacity as the acting Joint Chief Mediator, facilitated, in conjunction with the Government of the State of Qatar, talks between Government of the Sudan representatives and a delegation of former members of the Justice and Equality Movement’s Executive Council led by Mohammad Bashar. The two parties signed on 21 October a declaration that provides for a cessation of hostilities and a commitment to engage in negotiations which would lead to the signing of an agreement to adopt the DDPD. These negotiations are intended to begin in November.
3.In light of the aforementioned development and with regard to the Mediation process moving forward, the acting Joint Chief Mediator and her team are currently assessing the political and military strengths of the various non-signatory movements and factions. At the same time they are continuing to foster the confidence of all parties to the conflict with a view towards increasing the inclusiveness of the peace process.
4.With regard to the implementation of the DDPD, work has continued on the Darfur Joint Assessment, which as noted in the Secretary-General’s report, commenced in May. The technical survey mission has now finished collecting information on issues related to economic recovery, development and poverty eradication needs in Darfur . The teams consulted with state ministries and civil society representatives in the five Darfur state capitals over a three-week period, including through workshops in which 1,420 civil society and government representatives participated (25 per cent of whom were women). The findings of this exercise will be presented at a Donor’s Conference scheduled to take place in Doha in December.
5.On the security provisions of the DDPD, on 15 October the Joint Commission met in Khartoum to address the long-standing dispute between the signatory parties over the results of the initial verification of Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) forces, which was conducted from 5 to 9 March. As Council Members are aware, the Commission is chaired by the UNAMID acting Joint Special Representative, and includes representatives of the signatory parties and international actors.
6.The meeting addressed primarily the disagreement of the parties over the results of the verification of LJM forces and the disarmament and demobilization of militia in Darfur by the Government of Sudan. With the facilitation of the Joint Commission, the parties agreed to undertake jointly by 15 November, with the support of UNAMID, a desk review of the initial verification results and to verify additional LJM forces not included in the initial exercise due to restrictions by the authorities. Completion of the verification phase is required to enable progress towards the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of LJM combatants or their integration into the Sudanese Armed Forces.
7.Regarding the DDPD provisions on the disarmament of militia by the Government, Government representatives to the Joint Commission agreed to respond by 12 November to the UNAMID Force Commander’s request for additional information about the Government’s disarmament plan, specifically, the identities, strengths and locations of the groups to be disarmed. The implementation of such a plan by the Government would be a significant contribution towards controlling arms and reducing violence in Darfur .
8.Turning now, Mr. President, to the implementation of the Mission’s protection of civilians mandate, on 3 October a UNAMID patrol proceeded to Hashaba (this is 50 km north-east of Kutum, North Darfur) to verify reports of an attack on civilians. Information collected by the patrol and through other interlocutors indicates that what appears to have begun on 20 September as a dispute over land access between nomadic camel herders and sedentary farmers reportedly escalated when Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)-Minni Minawi and SLA-Unity elements apparently killed a large number of the nomads’ camels. Community sources stated that armed militia then attacked the Hashaba area on 25 September, that is five days later, including the nearby gold mines which are under the control of some of the armed movements. The sources also reported aerial bombing of the mining areas by Sudanese Armed Forces.
9.The UNAMID patrol of 3 October observed one bomb crater during a survey of the town and mining areas, as well as three decomposing bodies and what SLA elements claimed were 16 freshly covered graves containing civilian casualties. The SLA stated that, apart from the town’s gold miners, most of its inhabitants had fled before the assault. Accounts of the number of civilian casualties nevertheless range from 27 to 100.
10.UNAMID made several attempts between 4 and 16 October to return to Hashaba to corroborate the information and to enhance security in the area. Movement restrictions imposed alternately by Government authorities, armed militia and armed movements on the grounds of insecurity prevented the patrols from proceeding. On other occasions, the risk of heavy clashes between militia and armed movement forces made it prudent to delay patrols on the grounds of safety.
11. On 17 October, a UNAMID patrol enroute to Hashaba came under attack by unidentified armed assailants approximately 20 km short of its destination. This integrated patrol, which was led by the UNAMID Deputy Force Commander, was comprised of a 16 vehicle convoy including 114 military and police personnel plus a civilian delegation including members from Civil Affairs, Human Rights, Political Affairs, the Department of Safety and Security and Public Information, with the specific purpose of building a comprehensive assessment of the facts around the 25 September attack on Hashaba. The attackers, who fired heavy machine guns, mortars and rocket propelled grenades from high ground, withdrew as UNAMID peacekeepers returned fire. The patrol then returned to base without having reached Hashaba. As the Council is aware, and regrettably, one South African peacekeeper was killed and three others were wounded in the exchange. UNAMID is continuing its efforts to access Hashaba.
12. This was the second fatal attack on UNAMID peacekeepers in two weeks. On 2 October, a UNAMID patrol was attacked by unidentified armed assailants in El Geneina ( West Darfur ), in which three Nigerian peacekeepers were killed and eight were injured. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the Secretary-General’s condemnation of those responsible for these reprehensible acts and to call on Government authorities to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice.
13. In this regard, Government police informed UNAMID on 9 October that they had arrested an unspecified number of people in connection with the incident in El Geneina. However, they are yet to provide information to the Mission about the suspects or their relationship to the attack.
14. The kidnapping of two UNAMID formed police officers in Kabkibiya ( North Darfur ) on 20 August is also of deep concern. UNAMID is working closely with the Government on their release and I strongly urge the Government to spare no effort to ensure the safe return of the two police officers.
15. Turning to other incidents of fighting, Mr. President, community sources reported clashes on 17 October between Government and SLA-Minni Minawi forces near Abu Delek (50 km south-east of El Fasher, North Darfur). UNAMID is verifying the information. It will be recalled that the area was the scene of sporadic fighting throughout the spring between Popular Defence Force elements and armed movement forces. UNAMID has increased patrolling in camps and villages in the area and has called on the parties to immediately cease hostilities.
16. The security situation in Darfur, in particular in North Darfur , has deteriorated in recent weeks. This has increased the risks to civilians while, at the same time, increasing the threat to the safety and security of Mission personnel. UNAMID has responded through concerted action to protect civilians and by demonstrating its determination to implement its mandate. Ultimately, however, improving security will require the parties to the conflict and armed groups to refrain from violence and instead resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue.
17. The implementation of the DDPD provides a basis for addressing the many causes of the Darfur conflict and for promoting security. Fifteen months on from its adoption, however, implementation by the signatory parties is well behind schedule. In addition, efforts to bring other armed movements on board have yet to bear fruit. While progress in the Darfur Joint Assessment Mission is very welcome, the Government and LJM’s case for receiving donor assistance to implement its development framework would be strengthened, and the DDPD made more attractive to non-signatory movements, if the parties were to demonstrate their full commitment to promoting peace, security, recovery and development in Darfur . This should include by the authorities lifting restrictions on the operations of UNAMID and humanitarian and development agencies. I therefore urge the Government and LJM to clearly demonstrate their commitment to the full and timely implementation of the DDPD and to fully support the work of UNAMID and the agencies in Darfur .
Mr. President, distinguished Council Members,
I thank you for your attention.
By Security Council, 26/10/2012