Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has again urged all parties to the conflict in Darfur to seriously pursue peace, citing ongoing violence, displacement and human rights violations in the region despite several years of United Nations-backed attempts to end the hostilities.
In his latest report to the Security Council on the joint African Union-UN mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Mr. Ban notes that 2010 has seen some indications of progress – including a protocol on border security signed by Sudan and Chad, and the holding of largely peaceful elections in Darfur.
However, efforts toward peace have remained “frustrated” by the fragmentation of Darfur’s armed groups and by ongoing military operations, which have uprooted more civilians and caused further suffering to the people of the region.
Violence flared between Sudanese Government forces and those of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in May, in breach of a cessation of hostilities agreement signed earlier this year, making May the deadliest month since the establishment of UNAMID in 2007.
In addition, tribal conflict, displacements, criminality and violations of human rights continued throughout the first half of this year in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million others have been displaced in the past seven years as a result of fighting between rebels and Government forces backed by allied Janjaweed militiamen.
Violent attacks have also continued against UNAMID personnel, five of whom were killed in recent months.
“These are not signs that peace in Darfur is being pursued with seriousness and in good faith,” says the Secretary-General.
Stating that JEM’s withdrawal from the peace talks held in Doha, Qatar, has undermined the goal of a rapid resolution of the Darfur conflict, Mr. Ban urges the rebel group and the Government to immediately cease their ongoing military confrontations and commit to the peace process under the Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Djibril Bassolé,
“Without an inclusive and comprehensive peace agreement in Darfur, as southern Sudan heads towards a referendum on its future status, there is a risk of increased instability in the Sudan,” he warns.
Meanwhile, UNAMID, which now has more than 17,000 troops and over 4,000 police personnel on the ground, continues with vital tasks such as providing escorts to the people of Darfur and support to the humanitarian community in aid delivery.
It is also carrying out regular patrols of thousands of kilometres of road, “providing an active deterrent to opportunistic violence and crime,” the Secretary-General reports.
UNAMID police have also pioneered the concept of community policing inside camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), including patrols 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in 18 camps, and are present in many vulnerable communities across Darfur.
“UNAMID must continue to expand the work it has painstakingly begun amid conditions of extreme insecurity, so that these positive developments can be converted into lasting improvements,” says Mr. Ban, who recommends that the Council renews the mission’s mandate for another year beyond 31 July, its current expiration date.
“However, if the potential of the mission is to be maximized, it is essential that Sudanese authorities show greater commitment in practical terms towards providing an enabling environment for UNAMID,” he stresses.
This includes Government follow-up to attacks on UN personnel to bring the perpetrators to justice and send a clear message that attacks against peacekeepers – which constitute war crimes – are not tolerated, as well as an immediate halt to restrictions imposed by the Government and armed groups on the freedom of movement of UNAMID.
The Government must also remove all obstacles to the use of UNAMID aerial assets, the Secretary-General says, recalling that peacekeepers wounded in recent attacks bled to death when rapid response and medical evacuation flights were denied authorization.
“That must never happen again,” he states.
In a related development, the Sudan Consultative Forum held its first meeting in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on 17 July. The Forum aims to provide international support to the search for peace in Darfur as well as the implementation of the remaining provisions of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended decades of civil war in the country.
Participants called on all stakeholders in Sudan to continue to work for the democratic transition of the country, undertake efforts towards the realization of the remaining provisions of the CPA and conclude as soon as possible the peace talks aimed at resolving the Darfur conflict, according to a communiqué issued by the meeting, which was co-chaired by UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy and the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramtane Lamamra.