UN envoy calls for more support to help maintain stability in Sudan’s Darfur

FILE - In this July 30, 2020 file photo, residents displaced from a surge of violent attacks squat on blankets and in hastily made tents in the village of Masteri in west Darfur, Sudan. The U.N. says ethnic fighting in Jan. 2021 in Darfur spanned two provinces, killing at least 250 people and displacing 120,000, mostly women and children. The Darfur bloodletting — just two weeks after the end of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force’s decade-long mandate in the region — raised questions about the government's ability to protect civilians there. (Mustafa Younes via AP, FIle)

The top UN envoy for Sudan on Tuesday called for more international support to help maintain stability in the Darfur region, as well as more resources for his UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) to better carry out its mandate.

FILE PHOTO: Residents displaced from a surge of violent attacks are seen in the village of Masteri in west Darfur, Sudan. /AP

UNITAMS has moved to refocus its efforts on the priority areas identified by the UN Security Council, including peace talks, cease-fire monitoring, and support to the national plan for the protection of civilians, Volker Perthes, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Sudan and head of UNITAMS, said.

On June 30, the chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, issued a series of decrees by which the Permanent Cease-fire Committee for Darfur, as well as sectoral committees for the five states of Darfur, were established. According to these decrees, and in line with the Juba Peace Agreement, UNITAMS will serve as the chair of these committees, he told the Security Council in a briefing.

UNITAMS has consequently begun to operationalize the Permanent Cease-fire Committee, starting with technical consultations on September 5 and 6 in Khartoum, which brought together all members of the committee from the military, the armed groups and other key stakeholders to discuss concrete modalities of implementing a meaningful cease-fire mechanism.

The parties have clearly conveyed to UNITAMS that they expect logistical and financial support from the international community for the implementation of the security arrangements, Perthes said.

“And indeed, if (UN) member states want security to be stabilized in Darfur, they should not shy away from making resources available for, among other things, the training and support of the planned Joint Security Keeping Forces, the police, or the demobilization and reintegration of fighters.”

Sudan also needs to assume its own responsibility to begin implementing the security arrangements and reforms to gain such international support, he added.

Expectations of the Permanent Cease-fire Committee are high, but also partially misplaced, particularly concerning the protection of civilians, he warned.

While the committee can contribute positively to stability in Darfur, its role and mandate remain distinct: It is about monitoring, reporting and trying to mediate and reconcile, but not about physical protection. The recent resurgence of intercommunal violence in Darfur, therefore, demonstrates the urgency of supporting the Sudanese police and for deploying the Joint Security Keeping Forces.

The Permanent Cease-fire Committee is not and cannot be a substitute for these forces and their protection mandate, he said.

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