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Civil society groups call on Sudan’s PM to request maintaining UNAMID in Darfur

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UNAMID Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) during a routine patrol near Tabit area, North Darfur on 25 November 2018 (UNAMID Photo)
May 8, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Civil society groups and activists called on the Sudanese prime minister to prioritize the protection of civilians in Darfur and to request a revitalized UNAMID or a new broader mission under Chapter VII.

As the hybrid peacekeeping in Darfur is scheduled to withdraw from Darfur region by the end of October 2020, Abdallah Hamdok on 27 January asked the UN Security Council to establish a special political mission under Chapter VI to support democratic transition and peace implementation process.

The request which rejects any military presence under Chapter VII was criticized by the supporters of the former regime and Sudanese Islamists who accuse the transitional government of paving the way for foreign intervention in the county.

Also, the protection of civilians imposed itself in the debate as a result of the increase of tribal violence, attacks on civilians and displacements in Darfur, particularly after Hamdok’s rejection - in a second letter to the UN on 27 February - of any military presence in the new mission even police units.

In a petition submitted to the office of the prime minister on Monday 4 May, 98 advocacy and civil society groups, as well as activists from Darfur and other areas, said "strongly opposed" to UNAMID withdrawal an urged Hamdok to back the continued presence of the peacekeeping operation pointing to the "grave vulnerabilities facing civilians".

The petitioners called on Hamdok to demand UNAMID’s extension beyond October 2020 and to equip it "with a more robust force".

Further, they asked him to "call for additional support for the UNAMID to continue its mission under its current mandate or replace it with a broader mission under Chapter VII with additional tasks contained in your letters".

Representatives of the civil society groups were received on 5 May by the aides of the Prime Minister who sought to convince them that the government will take all the necessary measures to curb the inter-communal fighting and severely deter attacks on civilians.

The delegates, for their part, said they fully understand the difficult challenges facing the transitional government but insisted on their request saying that no peace agreement has been yet reached and that the security forces deployed in the region to protect civilians were in part involved in the recent violence.

The African Union and the United Nations reported last March that the tribal militias are the main source of violence in the region.

The size and firepower of these militias "often exceed those of the Sudanese police and who have used physical and conflict-related sexual violence to displace communities and prevent them from returning to their farmlands," stressed the report.

The report further said that five most volatile IDPs camps in Darfur have experienced attacks by militias and breakaway factions of armed groups.

Last April, in a meeting about the future of the UNAMID and the political mission, the British ambassador suggested the deployment of police units within the new mission to protect civilians in partnership with the government forces.

It was also purported that Washington seeks to convince the Chairman of the Sovereign Council and head of the military component in the transitional government to accept this idea of police units.

(ST)

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