The challenge for the international community remains how best to impress upon all the parties involved in the Darfur conflict that a military solution and the status quo are untenable, the African Union-United Nations envoy on the region said today, urging the Security Council to play a more proactive role in supporting the holding of a successful national dialogue in Sudan.
“There is broad and general consensus that the national dialogue [proposed by Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir] represents an opportunity to resolve the Darfur crisis and other crises in the Sudan,” said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator.
Briefing the Council on the latest developments in Darfur and the work of the Joint AU-AU Mission in the region (UNAMID), he said all the parties, including all regional and international institutions he has engaged have engaged welcome the proposal for a national dialogue, and while questions on details of the process remain, he believed an enhanced supporting role by the Council would be key.
“The Sudanese parties should be assisted to create the much needed enabling environment for a genuine and inclusive dialogue and to recognize that the process could be a unique opportunity for sustainable resolution of all the conflicts afflicting the Sudan,” he said, adding that he would continue to impress on armed movements, in coordination with the AU High-Level Implementation Panel, the need for them to engage and be part of the national dialogue process, without any preconditions.
Mr. Chambas said he would also urge the Sudanese Government to engage directly with the armed movements to agree security arrangements to ensure their participation in the national dialogue. The process should be utilized by all participants, Government and opposition alike, as an opportunity to raise all concerns, to make proposals and discuss initiatives, which would be used to determine the future of a stable and democratic Sudan.
Specifically on the situation in Darfur, he told the Council that while fighting between Government forces and armed movements has reduced considerably in recent months, intermittent inter-communal violence continued mainly with renewed fighting between tribes competing for resources.
“Insecurity, acts of criminality and movement restrictions by Government forces, armed movements and militia groups pose a challenge to mandate implementation for UNAMID and impede the activities of humanitarian agencies, as well as being a threat to the safety and security of United Nations and humanitarian personnel,” Mr. Chambas said.
While operations of Rapid Support Force (RSF) have significantly reduced in Darfur and attacks by the armed movements have been sporadic, the upsurge in intra and inter-communal violence continues unabated in many parts of Darfur.
The most significant tribal clashes involved the Ma’alia and Southern Rizeigat in East Darfur, Ma’alia and Hamar on the border area between East Darfur and Western Kordofan, Northern Rizeigat and Beni Hussein in North Darfur, and Salamat and Misseriya in Central Darfur.
“Eleven years into the conflict in Darfur, the humanitarian situation remains very dire,” he said, explaining that the number of people estimated to have been displaced by conflicts in Darfur since the beginning of 2014 has increased from 250,000 in the previous reporting period to over 385,000, alongside the more than two million long-term internally displaced persons (IDPs).
With close to 30 per cent of Darfur's population displaced from their lands or homes and scattered in IDP camps and IDP-like conditions in many parts of Darfur, Mr. Chambas said “the imperative of a political solution to unpin humanitarian efforts cannot be over emphasized.”
Notwithstanding the challenging operational environment, he said that UNAMID, which he heads, continues to undertake measures to implement its strategic priorities as well as remaining focused on strengthening and streamlining its operations to enhance mandate implementation in accordance the strategic priorities set out in Security Council resolution 2148 (2014).
Regarding his mediation efforts towards direct negotiations between the Sudanese Government and non-signatory armed movements, Mr. Chambas said he has intensified coordination with the AU High-level Implementation Panel and the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General to Sudan and South Sudan “to synchronize our mediation efforts in line with the request contained in Council resolution 2148 (2014).”
In that light, the parties agreed to explore organizing a preparatory meeting, as soon as possible, that would involve the representatives of the armed movements and the Government of the Sudan at a mutually convenient venue.
“This meeting is expected to explore ways of addressing humanitarian and security situation in Darfur; deliberate on how the parties can bridge their differences and make progress towards a comprehensive settlement of the Darfur conflict and the possibility of a unified mediation framework,” he said.