The security situation in Darfur remains volatile, amid fighting between Sudanese Government forces and rebels, a recent spate of attacks against peacekeepers and an upsurge in inter-ethnic violence, the head of the joint African Union-United Nations mission in the region said today.
“As we enter the tenth year of the conflict in Darfur, it is evident that the only solution …will be a political one,” Joint Special Representative Mohamed Ibn Chambas told the UN Security Council in New York.
Mr. Chambas, who heads the AU-UN peacekeeping mission in the Darfur (UNAMID), called for intensified efforts to accelerate the peace process, which he said was being implemented at “an unacceptably slow pace.”
“While considerable progress was made throughout the years to bring down the initially great casualty numbers and to craft a peace process, much more remains to be done,” he said, declaring: “The parties to the conflict who have courageously embraced the path of peaceful settlement must be encouraged, supported and protected.”
Since the beginning of this year, the renewed violence in Darfur has prompted more than 250,000 people to flee their villages and abandon their livelihoods, and the inter-tribal clashes have strained the ability of humanitarian organization to reach vulnerable families.
Mr. Chambas said that the inter-ethnic clashes are “particularly worrying”, as the increased militarization and proliferation of arms amongst civilian populations in Darfur – accompanied by the deterioration in the humanitarian conditions for host communities and displaced populations – has led to more deaths, injury and displacement, than the fighting between the Government and non-signatory groups this year.
The clashes have also led to four attacks against UNAMID peacekeepers over the past four months. The most recent incident occurred on 13 July, when seven Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed and 17 other members of the Mission were injured in a roadside ambush.
Mr. Chambas said Sudan has launched an investigation into the incident and an internal investigation is also underway. “We are counting on the Government of Sudan to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.
Mr. Chambas told the Council that the Mission and Government are supporting local mediation initiatives to facilitate reconciliation and peaceful co-existence.
“UNAMID has continued to strongly encourage all parties to these inter-ethnic conflicts, and relevant civil society actors, to enter into dialogue with a view of addressing the root causes of the clashes and developing a common vision for their resolution,” Mr. Chambas said.
The Special Representative also reiterated the UN’s support for the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) which, negotiated with the support of the Government of Qatar, forms the basis for a permanent ceasefire and comprehensive peace agreement to end the fighting.
The Sudanese Government and two major rebel groups have committed to the DDPD. The Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) signed on last year; the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) signed a framework agreement in January 2013.
Mr. Chambas stated that during his negotiations with regional leaders, three heads of State – from Uganda, Tanzania and Chad – agreed to persuade non-signatory groups to renounce violence and come to the negotiating table with the Government of Sudan without preconditions.
“Hopefully this would lead to formal talks with the Government of Sudan,” he said. “This conflict cannot, and will not be won by force of arms, but can only be resolved through an all inclusive political dialogue.”
“Those who are still holding out should be persuaded to agree to start talks with the [Government of Sudan] without preconditions. For this to happen, your continued support and engagement is necessary,” he told Council members.