The head of the Security Council’s recent mission to Sudan today urged the 15-member body to press the parties to the 2005 peace accord which ended the country’s long-running north-south civil war to fulfil their commitments, stressing that the landmark deal is vital to ensuring stability throughout the vast African nation.
“The Comprehensive Peace Agreement remains fragile, and the Council came away convinced that we have to do all we can to support the parties in implementing it,” Ambassador John Sawers of the United Kingdom told an open meeting of the Council.
Mr. Sawers, who co-led the Sudan leg of the Council’s recent five-nation mission to Africa, added that the delegation believes that the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) needed to do more to support the CPA, which he said remains “the bedrock of peace in Sudan.”
In particular, he said the Mission could do more – and that it should “interpret its mandate more robustly than it has done so far” – if it is to contribute to stability and protect civilians in the disputed town of Abyei.
While in Sudan, the Council team also discussed with President Omar al-Bashir the situation in Darfur, where the UN and African Union have deployed a joint peacekeeping operation, known as UNAMID, to try to quell the violence and suffering that has plagued the region.
The operation currently has around 10,000 troops and police officers on the ground, far short of the expected total of about 26,000 when the mission reaches full deployment, and is lacking key capacities in air transport, particularly helicopters.
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations says that in addition to the four out of six required tactical support helicopters, there is a critical shortfall for three medium utility helicopter units (providing six helicopters each) and reconnaissance aircraft. It adds that discussions are ongoing with Member States to fill the shortfalls. In a related development, the head of the Department of Field Support, Susana Malcorra, has begun a visit to Darfur.
With UNAMID’s mandate coming up for review next month, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa, who co-led the Sudan segment of the Africa trip, urged the Council to pay closer attention to the details of the operation’s structure.
“Even I was shocked at how under-resourced UNAMID was […] this must be watched very closely,” he said, expressing concern that the operation’s current strength was not sufficient enough to respond to the fears of the people on the ground.
Recalling the reports of insecurity received from internally displaced persons (IDPs) and aid workers during the Council’s stop in Darfur, he said “the issue of UNAMID, its strength, resources and the conditions under which it will work need more attention from the Council, so it can assist the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and our humanitarian friends working on the ground.”
Mr. Kumalo also briefed the Council on the delegation’s visit to Djibouti, where UN-led talks between the Government and the opposition of neighbouring Somalia recently led to an agreement aiming to bring peace to the strife-torn nation that has not had a functioning government since 1991.
The Council had also encouraged the acceleration of the deployment of the UN mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), during its stop in the latter country, reported Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, who led that portion of the trip.
He said Council members had reaffirmed their commitment to Chad’s sovereignty and stressed that the country must commit itself to dialogue with Sudan and that both countries must pledge to keep armed groups out of each others territories.
In addition to meeting with Government officials, Council members visited a camp for Chadians displaced by fighting in country’s eastern region, and were briefed by UN and other humanitarian workers on security concerns and restrictions on their movement.
While in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Council touched on the country’s continued cooperation with the UN, as well as on sexual violence and issues related to war crimes investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mr. Ripert reported.
The Council had expressed to President Joseph Kabila its concerns, including the need to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions, reform its justice sector, and to press ahead with the holding of local elections.
“Even with all this, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is nevertheless seeing its first real taste of democracy in the last 50 years,” Mr. Ripert said, especially with political opposition playing a role in what appeared to be a “serene” atmosphere.
Reporting on the final leg of the mission, Ambassador Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso said that the Council’s stop in Côte d’Ivoire had enabled the body to assess the progress made by the Ivorian players in adhering to the Ouagadougou Agreement, including the preparations for the holding of credible, free and transparent presidential elections later this year.