UN: More steps urged towards political settlement in Darfur

New York, US (PANA) - UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet on Wednesday warned of an "unpredictable" political and security situation in Sudan's Darfur region.

He said a comprehensive resolution of the Darfur conflict, which would allow for the return of over 2.6 million displaced persons, required first and foremost a political settlement between Sudan's government and the armed movements.

In his briefing to the UN Security Council, Mr. Mulet said operations against the non-signatory armed movements, implemented by the Sudanese government, which involved a series of violent ground clashes and aerial bombardment, had led to over 104,000 newly confirmed displacements, as well as 69,000 unconfirmed cases.

"There had been no pause in inter-communal conflicts, which remains a major source of instability, resulting in approximately one third of all conflict-related fatalities and forty per cent of displacement so far this year," he said.

He also said the disputes have been further exacerbated by the involvement of local armed groups in counter-insurgency operations against the armed movements, their access to weapons, continued local influence and widespread impunity for their attacks against other tribes and other criminal activities.

The UN official said the Government of Sudan, particularly at the state level, had attempted to contain the violence through the swift deployment of security forces across Darfur, and the organization of inter-communal mediation conferences for the cessation of hostilities.

"However, the underlying causes of these conflicts, related to the use and management of resources and impunity of actors involved in the violence, remain unaddressed," said Mr. Mulet.

He further noted that following the decrees provided by the government, a two-month cessation of hostilities in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states and an unconditional pardon to members of the Sudanese political and armed opposition, who decide to participate in the National Dialogue process, was declared.

But, he disclosed that the Sudan Revolutionary Front declared its own six-month cessation of hostilities in Darfur and the Two Areas in accordance with its roadmap of 14 Sept.

The roadmap, Mr. Mulet explained, provides for the protection of civilians, unhindered humanitarian access and the creation of a conducive environment for peace talks and the National Dialogue.

He said President Omar Al-Bashir had highlighted his government’s readiness to engage in discussions on a permanent ceasefire with the armed movements.

However, the UN official said the Sudanese political and armed opposition reiterated their boycott of the process in the absence of a conducive environment for a genuine dialogue, but expressed their willingness to participate in a pre-dialogue meeting in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

"The AUHIP meeting on the National Dialogue followed by cessation of hostilities talks on Darfur and the Two Areas, which were initially scheduled for next week, are now expected to take place, respectively, in Addis Ababa on 16 to 17 and 18 to 19 November," he said.

He also reiterated the difficulties faced by UN/AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and humanitarian actors in the region as the government continues to restrict their air and ground movement, primarily to conflict areas citing security concerns.

"Delays and denials of customs clearances for UNAMID containers, including food rations, and visas for staff by the Government, have threatened to significantly undermine mandate implementation efforts.

"I would like to urge the Government of Sudan to maintain its current cooperation in ensuring the swift clearance of UNAMID food rations and their delivery to the Mission," Mulet said.

He also called on the government to lift all existing restrictions on the free movement of its personnel and assets, particularly with regard to access to conflict areas and, importantly, the issuance of visas, consistent with the provisions of the UNAMID Status-of-Forces Agreement.

He reported an increase in attacks against UNAMID and its personnel, including the killing of a South African peacekeeper by an armed group north of Mellit, Darfur, on 27 Sept.

"Despite these considerable obstacles, UNAMID remained steadfast in the implementation of its strategic priorities and addressing key challenges to mandate implementation.

"The Mission also focused its efforts on developing early warning capacity and other preventive measures with local stakeholders, promoting dialogue between farming and pastoral communities and supporting local institutions to address the root causes of conflict, in collaboration with the United
Nations Country Team," he added.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 28Oct2015

28 october 2015 19:45:23

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