Ending violence in the western Sudanese region of Darfur requires the Sudanese government and a rebel group that signed a peace plan last year to more fully commit to the deal, a senior United Nations official told the UN Security Council today.
“The security situation in Darfur, particularly North Darfur, has deteriorated in recent weeks,” the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, said during his briefing to the 15-member body on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur, known by the acronym UNAMID.
“This has increased the risks to civilians while, at the same time, increasing the threat to the safety and security of Mission personnel,” Mr. Mulet said after highlighting a number of incidents, not least an attack on a UNAMID patrol on 17 October, which left one South African peacekeeper dead and three others wounded, and another on 2 October, which left three Nigerian peacekeepers dead, and eight injured.
Mr. Mulet said the “many causes” of the Darfur conflict can be addressed through implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), a comprehensive peace plan finalized in May 2011 in Doha, Qatar, which has been heavily involved in mediation efforts involving the Sudanese region.
The plan provides a framework for ending fighting that began nine years ago, pitting Government forces and Arab militiamen against rebel groups, and for setting Darfur on a course for recovery. In his remarks, Mr. Mulet noted that implementation by the signatories was “well behind schedule.”
While the Government of Sudan and the rebel Liberation of Justice Movement (LJM) have already committed to the DDPD, it is designed to be open for other Darfur rebel groups to join. “Efforts to bring other armed movements on board have yet to bear fruit,” Mr. Mulet said.
While he acknowledged work had begun, under the agreement, to assess Darfur’s needs for economic recovery, development and poverty eradication, he appealed to both the Sudanese Government and the LJM to “clearly demonstrate their commitment” to the DDPD.
He also said they should “fully support” the work of UNAMID and humanitarian and development agencies, saying that Government restrictions on their operations should be lifted.
“The Government and LJM’s case for receiving donor assistance to implement its development framework would be strengthened, and the DDPD made more attractive to non-signatory movements, if the parties were to demonstrate their full commitment to promoting peace, security, recovery and development in Darfur,” Mr. Mulet said.
The Assistant Secretary-General praised UNAMID for “demonstrating its determination to implement its mandate” to protect civilians. After citing examples he said it had “responded through concerted action.”
With resolution adopted in July 2007, the Security Council authorized the establishment of the Mission, which currently consists of 21,510 uniformed personnel, to use force to protect civilians, among other powers. “Ultimately, however, improving security will require the parties to the conflict and armed groups to refrain from violence and instead resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue,” Mr. Mulet said.
On the question of attracting additional rebel movements to the DDPD, Mr. Mulet highlighted recent progress that has also been the subject of media reports over recent days. It involves talks, also in Qatar, between the Government of Sudan and a splinter group that broke off this year from the larger Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
The UN peacekeeping official noted that the two parties signed a declaration on 21 October that says they will end hostilities and begin talks aimed at eventually committing to the DDPD.
Mr. Mulet added a UNAMID team was now also assessing the political and military strengths of Darfur’s various non-signatory movements and factions. “They are continuing to foster the confidence of all parties to the conflict with a view towards increasing the inclusiveness of the peace process,” he said.