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UN suspends handover of UNAMID camps to Sudanese authorities

UNAMID officially handed over the Mission's team site in Tine, North Darfur, to the Government of Sudan, on 19 October 2017 (UNAMID Photo
June 15, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has suspended the handover of its camps to the Sudanese government following a decision by the ruling Transition Military Council (TMC) to give it to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

On 13 May, the TMC Chairman Abdel Fattah al-Burhan issued a decree ordering all the governors of Darfur five states to hand over UNAMID camps to the government militiamen.

In a briefing to the UN Security Council on 14 June about the situation in Darfur after al-Bashir removal, Jean-Pierre La Croix head of UN peacekeeping operations department said this decision forced them to stop the handover of their camps in Darfur within the ongoing preparations to quit Darfur next year.

"The TMC decree 102-2019 of 13 May, requesting UNAMID to hand over all “camps” to the Rapid Support Forces, which is in contravention to the UN rules and procedures," he said

"Given these developments, we have had no choice but to suspend the handover of UNAMID sites to the Sudanese authorities until the TMC decree is rescinded," he added.

Last May, Sudan Tribune sought to get a reaction from the TMC, but the military officials declined to comment on it.

Several international observers and pointed to the growing role played by the RSF in the country saying the matter has become a source of "serious concern".

Lacroix briefed the 15-member council about the joint assessment of the African Union and United Nations on UNAMID, as submitted in their special report of 30 May 2019.

"The Special Report (...) concluded that peacekeeping is no longer the most appropriate tool to address the situation in Darfur," he said before to add that its conclusions "therefore point to the continuation of the UNAMID drawdown process and its exit in 2020".

The report, however, proposed a review by November 2019.

The international diplomat reassured that the impact of the post 11 April events on Darfur, for the time being, remains "moderate" but warned that further escalations in Khartoum like the bloody attack on the pro-democracy sit-in could deteriorate the security situation in western Sudan region.

"The uncertainty of the negotiations’ outcome may have repercussions well beyond Khartoum and lead to (the) escalation of violence," he stressed.

Lacroix was referring to the stalled talks between the ruling military council and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) on power handover to a civilian government.

Also, he added that the prevailing fluid situation in Khartoum makes it more difficult for the UNMAID officials to pursue contacts with the military officials on a regular basis.