UNAMID alarmed by raids
The joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur has raised the red flag over rebel activities in the region’s south, following attacks by armed movements on three towns last week. The heightened rebel activity has been triggered by the break out of violence between Sudan and South Sudan.
Though it was indicated that the fighting between the two Sudans has eased over the weekend after Juba withdrew from the contested oil-rich Heglig region, a flare up in the violence was reported yesterday. Also coming under fire was the town of Jonglei.
“In the climate of ongoing tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, I am deeply concerned that armed movements are seeking to destabilise Darfur. Such actions could undermine the precious peace which has been advancing in Darfur since the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.
“I reiterate my call on the armed movements to discard the logic of war and to join the peace process for the sake of the long-suffering of the people of Darfur,” said a press statement received by The New Times from the Joint Special Representative for the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Ibrahim Gambari.
The UNAMID force, which has a highly regarded Rwandan contingent, is one of the largest and most difficult peace-keeping operations in the world. It was deployed in 2008 and has component of 3,200 Rwandan soldiers and officers. So well regarded is the Rwanda contingent that a Certificate of Commendation was awarded to Lt. Theoneste Nkurunziza for his exemplary courage under fire. Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyavumba, also from Rwanda, is UNAMID’S Force Commander.
Besides Darfur, Rwandan Defence Forces were recently deployed in South Sudan as part of the South Sudan stabilization mission. The 850-strong contingent has been deployed in the towns of Yambio, Tumbura, Torit and Juba, which is the capital of South Sudan.
The East Africa Community has played a crucial role in peacekeeping operations, with soldiers from Kenya, Uganda and Burundi engaged in the UN-African Union (AMISOM) force that is striving to stabilise lawless Somalia. Kenya is also expected to send troops to South Sudan to join the Rwandan contingent.
Gambari, a Nigerian diplomat, is also the Joint Chief Mediator ad interim for Darfur. According to UNAMID, on 17 April, an armed group waged an attack on the community of Saysaban, in southwest Darfur, destroying a telecommunications tower and seizing fuel from the local market.
Later that day, another armed group seized the town of Um Dafok, on the border with the Central African Republic. The groups claiming responsibility have identified themselves with the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minnawi and the Justice and Equality Movement.
In a third development, an unidentified armed group attacked the area of Amudal Al-Agdor, near Buram, some 50 kilometres north of the border with South Sudan. Gambari said UNAMID is closely monitoring the situation and taking measures to protect the civilian population in the region.
“All parties must refrain from violence,” the Joint Special Representative added. “There is no military solution to this conflict.”
Speaking to The New Times, the UNAMID Force Commander, Lt. Patrick Nyamvumba, said the continued tension between Juba and Khartoum posed a major threat to the security situation in Darfur and the wider region.
“It’s only logical that what happens on the other side may have a direct impact on Darfur,” he said, citing the armed rebel groups which are operational in both Darfur and in areas along the Sudan-South Sudan border. “We are closely monitoring the situation there because it’s an area of interest.”
The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, a Qatari-mediated pact aimed at spurring an eventual comprehensive accord to end the conflict, was agreed upon by the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in 2011.
The UN Security Council last Friday extended, by another year, the mandate of the panel of experts monitoring sanctions imposed on Sudan in connection with the conflict in Darfur.
In a resolution, the Council voiced its regret that some individuals affiliated with the government had continued to commit violence against civilians and to impede the peace process. It also expressed its intention to impose targeted sanctions against individuals and entities that meet the listing criteria.
It requested the panel to coordinate its activities with the operations of UNAMID, and with international efforts to promote the political process in Darfur.
The Council also requested the panel to provide a mid-term briefing to the sanction committee on its work within 90 days of the extension of its mandate, and a final report not later than 30 days prior to the expiry of the new mandate on February 17 next year.
It also requested the panel to continue to investigate the role of armed, military, and political groups in attacks against UNAMID personnel, and noted that individuals and entities who plan, sponsor or participate in such attacks constitute a threat to peace in Darfur and may be listed by the sanctions committee.
The Council further urged all States, particularly those in the region, to report to the sanctions committee on all actions they have taken to implement measures imposed under the sanctions regime.
It voiced concern that the travel ban and asset freeze on designated individuals is not being implemented by all States, and requested the committee to respond effectively to any reports of non-compliance.
The panel was established in March 2005 and is tasked with monitoring an arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze, and inform the Council’s sanctions committee about individuals who impede the peace process, violate international law or are responsible for offensive military flights in Darfur.
Darfur has since 2003 been wracked by conflict that pits government forces and allied militiamen against rebel groups.
Millions of civilians have either been internally displaced or forced to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.