African Union United Nations Mission in Darfur
Though the region of Darfur is relatively peaceful at this time, a small portion of Jebel Marra within Darfur continues to be intermittently volatile.
As the UN Secretary-General has always stressed, there can be no military solution to the conflict in the region. The challenge is: how can UNAMID best assist the Government of Sudan and the armed/non-signatory movements to stop fighting and engage in genuine political dialogue towards sustainable peace.
I welcome the unilateral declarations of cessation of hostilities in Darfur and call for the maintenance of these.
I welcome and support the on-going discussion on a cessation of hostilities document under the auspices of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel.
I met with Abdul Wahid in Paris, where he resides on July 11; upon my request he agreed to hold a meeting of the Sudan Liberation Army leadership cadres in mid-September of this year to consider joining the peace process. He asked for UNAMID’s assistance. I agreed to assist but asked for a formal written letter to process the request. He agreed to write immediately but till date, has failed to do so in spite of my writing two reminders.
I would like to use this opportunity to call on all members of the United Nations and respective Special Envoys of influential countries to exert necessary pressure on the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid, to join the peace process.
A major plank of UNAMID’s mandate from the Security Council is to protect civilians in Darfur. UNAMID has encountered some challenges in implementing this responsibility in a small portion of Darfur.
Both sides in the conflict in Jebel Marra continue to hamper or deny access to the remaining enclave of the concerned armed movement in Darfur. UNAMID is not an interposition force. It is a peacekeeping force and needs collaboration of both sides in the conflict to protect all civilians.
I call on the International Community as well as all Special Envoys of countries concerned to exercise influence and ensure UNAMID has unrestricted access all over Jebel Marra.
However, UNAMID’s request for humanitarian access for protection of civilians purposes has no link with the recent Amnesty International’s claims on chemical weapons since the mandate to investigate use of chemical weapons belongs to a different organisation. Even with full access as agreed in the Status of Forces Agreement, UNAMID lacks mandate to investigate on use of chemical weapons.
Nonetheless, UNAMID has been requested to shed light on the claims in the Amnesty International’s report and the facts are as follows:
In spite of the almost 20,000 UNAMID personnel on the ground in Darfur, none of them has seen any Darfuri with the impact of the use of chemical weapons as described by Amnesty International’s report;
Not one displaced person meeting such description has shown up at any UNAMID Team Site clinics where they would have naturally gone for help.
Amnesty International claimed to have made calls into Jebel Marra but did not for once call any of the almost 20,000 UN personnel all over Darfur, including in places like Sortony and Nertiti within a stone throw from the places where chemical weapons were reported to have been used.
Not one among the leadership of the Armed Movements in Darfur discussed use of chemical weapons with me or my Deputy during several meetings spanning January, April, May, July, August and September this year.
9 October 2016