Report on the Strategic Review of the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID), a joint African Union and United Nations peacekeeping mission formally approved by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769 on 31, has revealed the extensive efforts of the Government of Sudan led by Omar Al-Bashir, to put the security situation in Darfur and other places under control.
The Special report of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the strategic review of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (S/2017/437 is prepared pursuant to United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution and it covers the period from 1st of July 2017 to 15th of May 2018.
The report is composed of 6 chapters, which was submitted following the visit of the joint Mechanism between UN and AU in April on the situation in Darfur, which coincided with the visit of the joint evaluation team within the framework of exit strategy of UNAMID pursuant to UNSC resolution No 2363- 2017.
The report described the situation in Darfur as stable with inactive presence of the rebel groups except of minor military activities of SLA Abdulwahid faction restricted to Jebel Mara area. The report pointed to the reduction in the level of tribal conflicts in the light of continued peace efforts and implementation of Doha Agreement being pursued by the Government of Sudan.
The report was concluded with observation pointing to improvement of the security situation in Darfur to a level that created appropriate environment for UNAMID exit, considering that the government has imposed its control over the situation beside the success of the disarmament programme. The report recommended repositioning of the UNAMID to suit the needs of Darfurians and to contribute to further revitalizing development and introducing a new concept to UNAMID with a two-year time frame charting an exit map
The report also acknowledged the improvement and stability of the general situation and included a new concept and priorities for UNAMID. It has confirmed the intransigence of the rebel movements and their violations of the security situation in the region. The report goes further to affirm the strategic efforts of the Sudanese government to ameliorate the situation even as it described the Sudan Liberation Army, Justice and Equality groups as non-existent on the ground in Sudan. It added that there have been no confrontations between the government and the rebels since 1 July 2017.
Minor clashes were reported in East Jebel Marra during the period between March and May 2018 caused by the AbdulWahid rebel faction, which took the form of extortion and criminality against the displaced persons and induced tribal conflicts and possibly linked to the burning of a number of villages and the displacement of several thousands in the Rock Ru in March and April 2018. But the situation is today under control.
UNAMID Exit: Within an integrated approach in Darfur
The report pointed to the humanitarian challenge faced by Sudan as a result of the effects of the conflict that led to population displacement and the result of the climate situation related to the food shortage. The number of displaced persons according to the last response plan was estimated at 1.6 million. About 500,000 displaced persons are said to be living in host communities, as well as the refugees of southern Sudan (174,000). It referred to the transformation, early recovery and peace-building as a result of the security improvement, but this is faced with lack of confidence in the government and its institutions of law and order, Natural resources and the lack of basic services for those affected by the conflict who are depending on humanitarian aid. The educational and health situation has also been affected.
Phasing out of UNAMID will start on 30 June 2020 and will be completed in December 2020 with the Government’s cooperation to facilitate the closure of sites and the repatriation of equipment. A two-year action plan will be developed for capacity building.
In light of the stability of the general situation in Darfur (except Jebel Marra) and the existence of the roots of the conflict (land and distribution of wealth) and the continued improvement of the situation, the idea of transitioning from peace to peace building was to invest in building peace and development. This will focus on the most dangerous areas to protect civilians and on humanitarian effort and mediation in local conflict where UNAMID and the country team do so in comprehensive ways.
The report considers it important to have long-term development arrangements to prevent relapse into conflict and the successful transition of peace building. This requires mobilizing high-level resources and efforts, communicating with partners and involving the Government, and can be done through a UN fund.
The report proposes key elements for the implementation of UNAMID’s new concept of troop reduction and relocation where UNAMID is located in the city of Zalingei in central Darfur. Its area of operations will include 13 areas with all other team sites closed, and communications offices in El Fasher,Al-Geneina, Al-Daen, Nyala) until the liquidation of the Mission and the building of the structures of the current United Nations country team. UNAMID will begin reconstituting immediately upon the adoption by the Security Council of the new mandate and the liquidation process will be completed no later than December 2020.
The report includes the provisions of the letter addressed to the Security Council in August 2017 as indicators of completion of UNAMID’s two-year withdrawal from Darfur, including security sector, rule of law, police, justice, reforms, durable solutions for displaced persons and host communities, service for displaced people and human rights.
The Rebel Strategy against UNAMID withdrawal process
The rebel forces and their alliances have been very active and critical against the proposal of UNAMID withdrawal process and they have intensified their opposition as the Security Council discusses the final withdrawal of the joint forces in Darfur on July 13. Their resistance took different forms of violence against innocent people including killings and distortions and stealing from displaced people. They have also resisted reforms but the Sudanese Government has remained strong in keeping the peace and stability of the region despite the intransigence of the rebels.
The reality of the situation currently in the Jebel Marra region lies in the claims of hostile parties and the international community is responsible for implementing the recommendations of the 1591 Panel of Experts and the African Peace and Security Council that rebel Abdul Wahid is obstructing peace efforts and fueling the conflict in Jebel Marra and not responding to the call for peace.
Position of the friendly countries and efforts of the Sudan Mission in New York
The friendly countries and the Arab and African groups have continued to support Sudan in international forums especially in the UN Security Council when discussing the situation report in Darfur, where Ethiopia, Russia, Kuwait and China have remained positive and strongly supportive of Sudan. There are Asian and European countries making a positive and moderate change of their attitude after the breakthrough in US-Sudanese relations .America has also become less hostile to Sudan, especially when discussing the report of the UNAMID mission. The observers have responded to US foreign policy on reducing the funding of peace missions abroad following the efforts of Sudanese mission in New York.
The Sudan Mission in New York lobbied the diplomatic missions of the friendly member countries of the Security Council on the need to vote in favour of reduction of UNAMID mission and the final exit.
Resolution 2429 (2018) was adopted, which included the recommendations of this report, which was put it into effect. The proposed reduction and the main observation of the decision were made to focus on the conditions and criteria required in order to complete the withdrawal of UNAMID in the specified timeframe.
Analysis and indicators
The report is very realistic and it provides practical and genuine proposals, yet, there are some western countries that tried to put obstacles and stand in its way. It is regrettable that the Western Governments have continued to provide a safe haven for these rebel groups to plan their criminal activities and the Sudanese Government hereby calls on the International Community to call some western Governments order.
The international community is aware of the implication of Abdelwahid faction in sabotage of the peace process in Darfur. His faction has continued to terrorize peaceful citizens, looting and carrying out banditry activities in Jebel Marra region. The faction as well as other Darfur rebel movements have also been engaged in mercenary activities and fueling the conflicts in Libya and southern Sudan. However, no action has been taken against them.
Following some recommendations, the Government of Sudan, despite the challenges will intensify media campaign to hold Abdelwahid responsible for undermining peace and security in the Jebel Marra region and will continue to highlight the efforts led by the government with the international community and UNAMID in the region.
National Committee on UNAMID’s Exit Strategy according to the recommendations is also set to sponsor a conference of displaced people and donors to mobilize support for the initiative of peace-building and development in Darfur.
The Sudanese Government will not relent until it ends all forms of rebellion in Darfur and ensure total peace and development of all parts of the country.
–Yusuf is an international affairs analyst