November 3, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The rebel Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and Justice and Equality Movement led by Gibril Ibrahim (JEM) have asked the United Kingdom to support the stay of the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
Last June, the UN Security Council decided to draw down the UNAMID by withdrawing the military personnel by 44% and that of the police component by 30%, the closure of 11 team sites in the first phase and the withdrawal of the military component from another seven team sites in the second phase.
Ahead of the second phase, beginning 1 January 2018, the Council requested the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Commission to provide an assessment of whether the conditions on the ground remained conducive to the further planned reductions.
At the same time, it would determine the impact of the phase-one reduction on areas from which UNAMID would have withdrawn as well as the state of the Sudanese government cooperation with the Mission.
In a press statement Friday, the JEM peace and negotiations secretary Ahmed Tugud Lisan and SLM-MM secretary of organization and administration Hussein Arku Minnawi said a joint delegation from the two movements met with the Sudan’s file officials at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
According to the statement, the meeting discussed the expected outcome of the upcoming briefing by the UN Secretary-General and Chairperson of the African Commission to the Security Council on the UNAMID reduction.
“The [joint] delegation explained in detail the number of violations [committed by the government] in Darfur and pointed to the risk posed by the absence and withdrawal of UNAMID in light of the violations which resulted from handing over the Mission sites from certain sectors in Darfur and the extent of the potential damage that could occur to the residents of the region,” read the statement.
The statement added that the delegation demanded the UK government to support the continued presence of the UNAMID in Darfur until all substantive reasons and circumstances for the exit of the Mission were made available.
It pointed out that the meeting also reviewed the human rights situation in Sudan with reference to the serious violations of the rules of international humanitarian law and international human rights.
According to the delegation, the UK side underlined it would exert pressures on the Sudanese government to sign and ratify the International Convention Against Torture, expressing concern over the human rights situation in Sudan and violations against political activists, journalists and Christians as well as serious violations in the conflict zones and IDPs camps, especially in Darfur.
On 21 October, UNAMID said it handed over the Sudanese government 11 team sites, saying phase 1 of the reconfiguration process would be completed by January 2018.
UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict, and over 2.5 million were displaced.
The hybrid mission has been deployed in Darfur since December 2007 with a mandate to stem violence against civilians in the western Sudan’s region.
It is the world’s second-largest international peacekeeping force with an annual budget of $1.35 billion and almost 20,000 troops.
Recently, the United States which pays over 28% of the $7.8 billion peacekeeping budget, announced that it would cut nearly $1.3 billion of its contribution from October 2017 and urged the United Nations to take it into account.