Near-Verbatim Opening Remarks by UNAMID Joint Special Representative, Jeremiah Mamabolo, at a Press Conference Held in Khartoum
(22 February 2018; 10:30 hours; Marawi Hall, UNDP Building, Gama’a Street)
Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to our first meeting in 2018. Before I start the briefing, I’d like to highlight that our press/media colleagues play a significant role in building trust, giving hope and encouraging reconciliation amongst the parties to the ongoing conflict in Darfur.
I would also like to commend the Government of Sudan on its ongoing weapons collection exercise that has contributed to a more secure environment in many areas. I further request the Government to continue monitoring any issues that may arise within the framework of this initiative.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As you are aware, UNAMID has been restructuring its operations on the ground as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 2363. I would like to share some of the highlights of the ongoing reconfiguration process with you.
We have concluded the first phase of the mandated reconfiguration well within the timelines set by the UN Headquarters in New York and reduced our authorized ceiling for uniformed personnel to 11, 395 military and 2,888 police.
Simultaneously, we closed and handed over to the Government of Sudan, 10 team sites and two community policing centres.
The team sites include Zam Zam, Malha, Mellit, Tine and Um Kadada in North Darfur; Tulus and Eid El Fursan in South Darfur; Forobaranga and Habila in West Darfur and Muhajeria in East Darfur.
Zam Zam and Abu Shouk are the community policing centres in North Darfur that were handed over.
Currently, we are in the process of implementing the second phase of the reconfiguration, which involves a further reduction of military personnel to 8, 735 and police personnel to 2,500 by 30 June 2018.
Additionally, we are assessing team sites that will be handed over by the Mission’s military personnel to the Formed Police Units as per UNSCR 2363. The objective is to address any outstanding infrastructure requirements in these sites.
In this context, refurbishment is currently underway at UNAMID team sites in Korma and Saraf Umra, North Darfur; Masteri, West Darfur; and the El Sereif Temporary Operating Base in North Darfur.
Phase 2 of UNAMID’s reconfiguration also includes the establishment of a temporary operating base (TOB) at Golo, Jebel Marra, Central Darfur.
At this juncture, I would like to reiterate my appreciation to the Government of Sudan for allocating a suitable location, some two-and-a-half kilometers from Golo town, for the temporary base.
We are in the process of constructing the temporary base; this is expected to be completed before 30 June 2018. This location will be the lynchpin of our traditional peacekeeping tasks, bearing in mind the sporadic instability and resultant displacement in the vicinity, as well as recurrent inter-communal violence. The focus here will be on emergency relief, addressing protection needs and the safe destruction of explosive remnants of war.
We are, therefore, mobilizing all necessary resources and manpower required to complete the construction of the temporary base as soon as possible.
In other areas across Darfur, UNAMID is working in greater collaboration than ever before, with the Government of Sudan and the UN Country Team to apply a more stabilization-oriented approach.
Some of our recent achievements in this regard include UNAMID’s support to the demobilization of 494 ex-combatants from signatory movements to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and the Darfur Peace Agreement, in partnership with the Sudan DDR Commission and the World Food Programme; as well as our Quick Impact and Community Stabilization projects that contribute to infrastructure-building as well as provide vocational training to at-risk youth, thereby adding to the Sudanese government’s efforts to encourage voluntary returns and promote peaceful coexistence.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Overall, across Darfur, UNAMID troops and police have demonstrated a proactive, robust posture in protecting civilians. But, as you will agree with me, peacekeeping is not an easy task, especially in light of the recurrence of violations resulting from a precarious, and sometimes volatile situation especially for IDPs. Protection issues for women and girls who are constantly attacked whilst undertaking livelihood activities remains a grave concern as well.
A topical example is the 20 January 2018 attack on IDPs in Hassa Hissa IDP camp, Central Darfur, which resulted in fatalities as well as injuries. I would like to applaud the Government of Sudan’s efforts in, reportedly, arresting some suspects and the formation of a state level committee by the Wali of Central Darfur to investigate the incident as well as putting in place immediate remedial measures to contain tension.
It is only through proactive and unified partnerships with the Government of Sudan and other UN and non-UN partners that we can achieve community safety and stabilization milestones across Darfur.
An example of collaborative endeavors to address these vital issues, are the two ongoing visits to Sudan by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict as well as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict; these visits are being facilitated jointly by government partners, the UN Country Team and UNAMID. I am sure both SRSGs will engage with all of you in the upcoming days.
On its part, UNAMID remains committed to supporting the Government of Sudan authorities on improving rights and access to justice in Darfur. Additionally, the Mission will, in collaboration with the UN Country Team and donor partners, continue to provide technical support to transitional justice mechanisms as well as work closely with the National Commission for Human Rights, and parties to the conflict.
I would like to illustrate this point with examples of UNAMID’s work with national rule of law institutions. We have recently published a hand book for rural court Judges of Darfur to enable rural court judges to adjudicate the civil and criminal cases and also effectively mediate to resolve community conflicts including land disputes in Darfur. Additionally, UNAMID successfully intervened and secured release of 18 minors detained in Shallah Federal Prison after they were found to be working as child soldiers. They were moved from Shallah Federal Prison to the Juvenile Reformatory in North Darfur due to our interventions and were subsequently released to their families.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would also like to assure you that, through my role as Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, we remain fully engaged with mediation and reconciliation activities aimed at preventing and mitigating inter-communal conflicts across Darfur.
Intra and inter-communal clashes continue, albeit at a noticeably reduced scale, mainly due to impactful intervention by the native administration authorities, community leaders and local peace committees supported by the Government, the UN Country Team and UNAMID.
Additionally, as some of you might be aware, I just returned from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where I briefed the African Union Peace and Security Council on the Darfur peace process. Unfortunately, the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP)-led process continues to be stalled and a cessation of hostilities agreement has not been forthcoming.
However, I have stayed in contact with the Darfur armed movements in support of President Thabo Mbeki, the lead mediator in the AUHIP-led mediation. I have sought to impress upon the leaders of the holdout movements the urgent need of signing a cessation of hostilities agreement and subsequently a political settlement to the crisis. We will continue to work towards this end.
We all need to supplement and complement our efforts towards bringing about lasting peace and development in Darfur. I count on your support in this endeavor.
It remains for me now to thank you for your attention and time. I hope to be speaking to you more often.