posted on Thu 24 Sep 2020 5:20 PM
Sudan: Briefing on UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan and the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur

Tomorrow (25 September), the Council is scheduled to have an in-person briefing on Sudan in the ECOSOC chamber. The briefing will be followed by closed consultations. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) Rosemary DiCarlo and Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix are expected to brief on the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), respectively.

The briefing is in accordance with resolutions 2524 and 2525, both adopted on 3 June. Resolution 2524 established UNITAMS for an initial period of 12 months and requested that the Secretary-General provide the Council “with a suggested structure and geographical deployment within 60 days of the adoption of this resolution”. However, on 23 July, the Secretary-General requested a 30-day extension because of “considerable challenges” linked to COVID-19. Resolution 2525 extended UNAMID’s mandate until 31 December, maintaining its troop and police ceilings, and requested the Secretary-General to provide the Council with an update on the implementation of UNAMID’s mandate every 90 days as an annex to the regular reporting requested on UNITAMS. Apparently, Council members received the UNITAMS report with both a suggested structure and geographical deployment for UNITAMS and the UNAMD annex on 17 September.

Council members will be interested in DiCarlo’s assessment of the political and security situation in Sudan, especially in light of Sudan’s ongoing political transition. According to the Secretary-General’s report, Sudan’s Transitional Government has pursued “ambitious political reforms”, while making good progress in its peace process. On 29 August, a peace agreement was reached between the Transitional Government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)-Minni Minnawi faction as well as a number of other factions, such as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)-Transitional Council and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N)-Malik Agar faction. The agreement, which included a broad array of signatories and has been widely hailed, covers a range of issues such as integrating combatants into the Sudanese armed forces, power-sharing arrangements and the return of internally displaced persons. Council members will be keen to hear more about this agreement as well as how the transitional government is working to broker peace with those groups that did not sign the 29 August agreement.

Council members are also likely to want to be briefed on the security situation in Sudan, including in Darfur. Lacroix may cover the recent wave of violence in Darfur, while DiCarlo may address the “increased communal violence in the east, west and south of the country” as noted in the Secretary-General’s report. On 25 July, 61 people were reportedly killed and another 88 injured when approximately 500 armed men attacked Masteri, a village in West Darfur. On 13 July, unidentified armed men attacked the Fata Bornu camp for internally displaced persons in Kutum, North Darfur, killing nine people and injuring 20. According to OCHA, at least seven violent events were reported in West Darfur in late July, leaving “dozens of people dead or injured, several villages and houses burned down”, and leading to “increased displacement, compromising the agricultural season, causing loss of lives and livelihoods and driving growing humanitarian needs”. Violence in early August between people from the Bani Aarem and Nuba tribes in Port Sudan led to the deaths of 25 people and resulted in a lockdown and curfew being imposed on parts of the city.

Sudan’s fragile humanitarian and socio-economic situations have been severely affected by a series of historic floods that have caused widespread damage across several parts of the country, and by the effects of COVID-19. The Secretary-General’s report calls Sudan’s socio-economic situation “dire”, with inflation reaching 140 percent in July while 9.6 million people are now considered severely food insecure, which is an increase of 65 percent over the same period last year. Council members may want to hear from DiCarlo on how Sudan is handling these multiple shocks. On 25 June, Germany hosted a virtual high-level Partnership Conference attended by 40 countries; DiCarlo may offer more details on that conference including what sort of international support Sudan is receiving in order to address the growing socio-economic and humanitarian challenges.

DiCarlo is likely to brief the Council on the planning process for the establishment of UNITAMS. A Secretariat team was established in April and visited the country from 26 July to 11 August; on 5 July, Sudan’s transitional government established an executive committee for coordination with UNITAMS. Council members will be interested in an assessment of the engagement between the government and the planning team. In addition, the Secretary-General’s report lays out a broad mission concept for UNITAMS based on the four strategic objectives set out in resolution 2524. These are: assisting Sudan’s political transition; supporting peace processes and implementation of future peace agreements; assisting peacebuilding, civilian protection and rule of law in Darfur and the Two Areas (that is, South Kordofan and Blue Nile); and supporting the mobilisation of economic and development assistance and coordination of humanitarian assistance.

The planning team also developed a provisional structure which is likely to serve as the basis for the mission’s 2021 budget. It is currently envisioned that the mission will be headquartered in Khartoum with field offices in Darfur, the Two Areas and East Sudan. Council members are likely to want to hear about the next steps DPPA intends to take in order to ensure that the mission is able to deliver on its mandated tasks by 1 January 2021 as called for in resolution 2524. Council members may also ask about the status of UNITAMS’ leadership. Resolution 2524 requested the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative for Sudan and head of Mission of UNITAMS, and a Deputy Special Representative to serve as UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, but at the time of writing these posts have yet to be filled.

Council members will want to hear from Lacroix about the situation in Darfur. As noted, there has been a spate of violence in recent months in Darfur, and the UNAMID annex of the Secretary-General’s report notes that the security situation in Darfur deteriorated between June and August. Lacroix will most likely offer his assessment of the current situation as well as inform the Council of what steps UNAMID has taken to protect civilians in Darfur since 11 August, when Council members discussed the situation in Darfur under “any other business” at the request of the UK and Germany and following violent incidents in that region in July. He may also provide insights on how UNAMID is working with the transitional government in order to help it build the capacity to implement its national plan for protecting civilians.

Finally, Lacroix may also brief on the mission’s eventual drawdown as it assesses the security situation in Darfur. The Council is expected to discuss this issue next month. Resolution 2525 requested the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to provide the Council with a special report no later than 31 October 2020, assessing, among other things, “the impact of the peace process on the security situation in Darfur, the capacity of the Government of Sudan…to protect civilians in line with the strategy outlined in the Government of Sudan’s letter addressed to the President of the Security Council dated 21 May 2020 (S/2020/429), and recommendations on the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID”.