8 December 2004
Deteriorating Security Threatens to Plunge Darfur into Chaos, Under-Secretary-General Warns Security Council
NEW YORK, 7 December (UN Headquarters) -- Warning today in a briefing to the Security Council that clashes between the pro-government militias in the Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) threatened to plunge Darfur into chaos, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, urged the international community to send an unequivocal message to all Sudanese parties that violence and hostile military actions were not an acceptable means to achieving political gains.
Calling the humanitarian situation dire, Mr. Prendergast said that access to vulnerable persons in Darfur had fallen from 90 per cent to 80 per cent due to increased insecurity and the rainy season. And, in North Darfur, tens of thousands had been cut off from relief. Both the SLM/A and, to a lesser extent, the Government, had been responsible for the recent decrease in access. The number of conflict-affected persons had risen to close to 2.3 million; and the Sudan required an estimated $1.5 billion, including some $620 million for Darfur.
Despite some earlier gains, he said that November had been characterized by violence and a marked deterioration in the security situation. Immediately after the signing of the humanitarian and security protocols in Abuja, Nigeria on 9 November, Darfur experienced relative calm. That calm was short-lived, however, with the security situation rapidly worsening towards the end of the month. Ceasefire violations took place on both sides, and increased clashes took place between Government forces and the SLM/A.
He urged that a clear message be sent to the SLM/A to stop military actions, at least some of which appeared deliberately intended to provoke the Government into retaliation. Following the signing of the protocols, any attacks by the rebels, including those intended to settle old scores pre-dating the protocols, were in violation of the ceasefire agreement.
The armed militias, for their part, should not be allowed to take the law into their own hands by responding in kind to violence instigated by the SLM/A, he said. Indeed, the militias had become a destabilizing factor, posing a dilemma for existing mechanisms intended to deal with ceasefire violations. Those groups were not included in any of the political negotiations, nor were they signatories to the ceasefire agreement. The international community must exert equal pressure on all sides to abide by their commitments.
With the resumption on 26 November of high-level North-South talks in Naivasha, Kenya, still under way today, Mr. Prendergast, hoping that that would be the final round of talks, said that the conclusion there of a comprehensive peace agreement would have far-reaching consequences for the whole of the Sudan, providing its leaders with an historic opportunity to reverse the countrys ills. Such an agreement could provide a basis for addressing the demands of other marginalized regions of the Sudan, including Darfur.
The Council last met formally on the situation in the Sudan on 18 and 19 November in Nairobi, Kenya. At the conclusion of its two-day session there, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1574 (2004), declaring its strong support for the efforts of the Government of the Sudan and the SLM/A to reach a comprehensive peace agreement. It also welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in Nairobi on the 19th, and, extended, for a further three months and with increased staffing, the United Nations Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS), which had been established by resolution 1547 (2004). (See Press Releases SC/8247 and 8249).
The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and was adjourned at 10:27 a.m.
Before the Security Council this morning was the latest report of the Secretary-General on the Darfur peace process and the North-South peace process in the Sudan (document S/2004/947). The Secretary-General asserts that, unfortunately, in Darfur, the optimism generated on the political front was overshadowed by regression in the security situation. Chaos is looming as order is collapsing, he says.
The Secretary-General recalls that, in his last report to the Council, he had stated that progress had been made in the North-South talks and he had welcomed the adoption of a broader mandate for the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) on 20 October by the African Union Peace and Security Council. In November, further progress was made on this front, with positive political developments during the talks in Abuja. Also, the historic Security Council meeting in Nairobi resulted in commitments by the Government and the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) to conclude the North-South talks and reach a final peace agreement by 31 December.
In Abuja, the report explains, the Government and the rebel movements - Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and Justice and Equality Movement (SLM/A and JEM, respectively), overcame their differences and achieved a breakthrough by signing the humanitarian and security protocols. They also were able to start discussions on the Declaration of Principles, underlying future political objectives and institutions in Darfur. Within its limited logistical capacities, AMIS continued to play a proactive role in Darfur, defusing the tension between the parties.
Unfortunately, however, in Darfur, ceasefire violations continued a few days after the commitments made by the parties to the Abuja Protocols, the report finds. Both parties should understand that, particularly after the signing of the Abuja Protocols, violence and hostile military activities are not an acceptable means to achieve political gains.
The rebel movements must realize that their recent aggression cannot be justified on the basis of self-defence or grievances that pre-date the 9 November agreement to cease hostile actions, the report stresses. For its part, the Government should note that any military advantage it might reap from the use of aerial bombing is more than outweighed by the negative political consequences of breaking its commitments under the ceasefire agreement. The Secretary-General calls on the parties to abide by their commitments under the ceasefire agreement. He calls on them to abide by their commitments by urgently providing the African Union with information on the exact location of their troops and by exercising full control over their troops, to put an end to civilian suffering.
The report says that, following the adoption of Security Council resolution 1574 (2004) in Nairobi, some parties to the conflict interpreted the language as being softer than in past Council resolutions on the Sudan. However, the Secretary-Generals Special Representative is making it clear to them that the Councils meeting in Nairobi was primarily focused on the North-South process, and that the paragraphs in the resolution that concern Darfur do not replace earlier Security Council resolutions on Darfur. They only complement earlier resolutions.
The Nairobi Council meeting crystallized calls by many international and regional players on the SLM/A, JEM and the Government to focus on the Abuja process and proceed with serious political negotiations. There was also a clear international consensus on the linkage between the North-South negotiations and the Abuja process. A comprehensive North-South peace agreement could offer a basis for efforts to integrate the other marginalized regions of the Sudan, create a new political coalition for peace and foster regime character change in Khartoum.
While the parties to the North-South negotiation must conclude them by the deadline they have set for themselves, the Secretary-General says in his report that he is concerned that some elements on both sides could perceive an interest in undermining the chances of concluding a comprehensive peace agreement. Internal frictions, personal rivalries, bidding for larger gains outside the North-South process, or groups competing for attention, could constitute difficult obstacles. Spoilers cannot be allowed to derail this process, he stresses.
The Secretary-General emphasizes that the conclusion of a comprehensive peace agreement would have far-reaching implications for the Sudan, and would undoubtedly usher in a new era in the region. It would also raise tremendous challenges for the United Nations advance mission in the Sudan and for the international community at large. International interest and support must be sustained. International assistance towards the African Union mission must continue. The United Nations has started planning for the implementation phase. Based on Security Council resolution 1574 (2004), and once the comprehensive peace agreement is signed, the Secretary-General will report to the Council and present his recommendations regarding the size, structure and mandate of a full mission following the present advance mission. This will also include a timetable for troop deployment, he says.
Briefing the Council on the situation in the Sudan, KIERAN PRENDERGAST, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that, despite some earlier gains, November was characterized by violence and a marked deterioration in the security situation. Immediately after the signing of the humanitarian and security protocols in Abuja on 9 November, Darfur experienced relative calm. That calm was short-lived, however, with the security situation rapidly worsening towards the end of the month. Ceasefire violations took place on both sides. Increased clashes took place between Government forces and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), with the recent fighting in Tawilla, North Darfur, on 22 November, as the most glaring example of that.
He said that the SLA was thought to be responsible for instigating much of the violence, although it had denied that. The Governments use of aerial bombing in retaliation, if confirmed, would also be in breach of the Protocols. On 24 November, at a meeting of the Joint Implementation Mechanisms (JIM), jointly chaired by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Sudan and the Sudanese Foreign Minister, the Government denied using aerial bombardment and stated that it would carry out its own investigation into the allegations, in parallel with the African Union.
At a subsequent meeting of the JIM, held on 5 December, the Sudanese Foreign Minister continued to deny the reports, despite African Union statements that they had evidence of the use of aerial bombardment, he said. The Minister said he would not accept any statements until a final report had been issued by the Union, maintaining that the Army Chief of Staff would be asked to carry out a separate investigation.
In addition to the fighting in Tawilla, on 1 December an African Union military observer from Chad sustained minor injuries when he was shot during an investigation mission in Adwah village, north of Nyala, in South Darfur, he reported. The shooting of the observer represents the first time an African Union soldier had been wounded in Darfur. He had been part of a team that had travelled to the area to verify allegations of fighting between the armed militia and the SLA. The African Union team had been forced to withdraw from Adwah following the incident. Prior to the attack, however, the team had spotted approximately 100 dead from the fighting, while flying overhead.
He said that African Union Commission Chairperson, Alpha Konara, issued a strongly worded statement unreservedly condemning the incident. He stated that shooting at monitors not only endangered the lives of members of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), but could make potential troop contributors reluctant to send troops to the Sudan. Chairperson Konara warned that the series of violent incidents that had occurred in Darfur, if not brought to an immediate end, risked undermining the Sudanese peace process. Heavy fighting continued in Adwah, even up to today.
Other incidents of violence took place in the region throughout November, he continued. Banditry and looting increased in North Darfur in the beginning of the month, especially on the major roads. On 2, 3 and 26 November in West Darfur, one of the two new rebel movements, the National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD), reportedly attacked four villages around the Kulbus area, where tensions remained high. Cross-border operations by elements of the Chadian army in support of the NMRD were reported on 19 and 21 November. El Geneina, Jebel Marra, Tawilla, and Rokiro were also reportedly tense, signifying the simultaneous development of so-called hot spots in many areas of Darfur. The Jebel Moon area, in North Darfur, was also tense, with the reported presence of all three rebel groups (SLA, JEM and NMRD), as well as government forces and armed tribesmen.
He said that increased activity by the Janjaweed and other pro-government militias, leading to clashes with the SLA, had been reported. The latest clashes, which threatened to plunge Darfur into chaos, were of great concern. Both the militias and the SLA had grievances that led them to trigger the fighting: the militias had been subjected to camel-raiding and hostage-taking by the rebels, while the SLA felt justified in carrying out retaliatory attacks for past violence perpetrated by the Janjaweed against civilians.
A clear message needed to be sent to the SLA to stop military actions, at least some of which appeared deliberately intended to provoke the Government into retaliation, he urged. Following the signing of the protocols, any attacks by the rebels, including those intended to settle old scores pre-dating the protocols, were in violation of the ceasefire agreement. Further, the armed militias should not be allowed to take the law into their own hands by responding in kind to violence instigated by the SLA.
The militias had become a destabilizing factor, posing a dilemma for existing mechanisms intended to deal with ceasefire violations, he said. Those were not included in any of the political negotiations, nor were they signatories to the ceasefire agreement. The international community must send an unequivocal message to all Sudanese parties that violence and hostile military actions, particularly after the signing of the Abuja Protocols, were not an acceptable means to achieve political gains. Equal pressure must be exerted on all sides to abide by their commitments.
Regrettably, the Government had made no progress in disarming the Janjaweed, he said. The African Union Ceasefire Commission (AUCFC) had confirmed that, to date, it had not been invited to verify any disarmament activities by the Government. Nor had there been any evidence of the Government apprehending and bringing to justice Janjaweed leaders for their past crimes, which was a central demand of Council resolution 1556. Moreover, the Government had made no effort to stop recent retaliatory attacks by the Janjaweed. Indeed, unconfirmed reports indicated the armed militias continued to receive arms from some quarters in Khartoum.
Continuing, he noted that, during a meeting of the Ceasefire Commission in NDjamena on 25 November, the African Union had asked the Government to provide them with the plan and timetable for the disarmament of the Janjaweed and other militias, and the SLM/A and JEM to provide them with details of the exact locations of their troops within the next few weeks.
It was encouraging to note the African Unions robust approach to get the parties to comply with the commitments, he said. The enhanced AMIS, which so far had only 800 troops and just over 100 military observers in Darfur, must be commended for its proactive and positive role in Darfur, under increasingly challenging circumstances and with limited resources. In addition to its monitoring task, AMIS had undertaken mediating roles to prevent conflicts and reduce tensions in incidents of hostage-taking and cattle-looting. The AMIS had carried out that monumental undertaking with considerable aplomb, in spite of the fact that it was not yet operating at full capacity in Darfur.
Meanwhile, he added, the Governments inaction regarding the disarmament of the militia underscored the need to strengthen AMIS capacity even further. While the African Union should be commended for what it had managed to achieve with relatively few troops on the ground, they would be able to do even more with increased capacity, including acting as mediator and protecting civilians by their presence. As the only monitoring mechanism present in Darfur, AMIS would continue to play a critical role in establishing a secure environment. The international community must provide all necessary support to enable it to do so. Logistical limitations continued to be a problem for AMIS, with shortages of communications equipment, ground transport, fixed-wing aircraft, aviation fuel and medical capabilities constraining its activities on the ground.
During the reporting period, the percentage of vulnerable persons accessible in Darfur had fallen from about 90 per cent to 80 per cent due to increased insecurity and the rainy season, he said. In North Darfur, where tens of thousands were cut off from relief, the percentage had fallen to 67 per cent. Both the SLM/A and, to a lesser extent, the Government had responsibility for the recent decrease in access. In Tawilla, fighting had led to the suspension of humanitarian activities for about a week, resulting in aid being cut off to some 30,000 internally displaced persons.
The humanitarian situation remained dire, he said. As of 1 November, the number of conflict-affected persons had risen to close to 2.3 million, he said. The United Nations and its partners had estimated requirements of some $1.5 billion for the Sudan for 2005, out of which some $620 million would be dedicated to Darfur. The rest would cover southern and eastern Sudan.
Despite the escalation of violence in Darfur, progress had been made in the negotiations in Abuja, he said. The signing of the two protocols on 9 November was a case in point. It was encouraging to note the ability of the Government, SLM/A and JEM to overcome their differences and reach agreement. At the next round of the Abuja talks, due to resume on 10 December, the parties were expected to discuss the Declaration of Principles, which formed the basis of political objectives and institutions in Darfur.
He said he was glad to report that the North-South talks continued to provide room for optimism. Following the pledge in Nairobi by the Government and the (SPLM/A) to conclude a final peace agreement by 31 December, technical-level discussions had resumed on 26 November. On 6 December, high-level talks between Vice-President Taha and Chairman Garang resumed in Naivasha, in what was hoped would be the final round of talks. The Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Jan Pronk, had been Naivasha between yesterday and today, where he had met with the principals.
The conclusion of a comprehensive peace agreement in Naivasha would have far-reaching consequences for the Sudan, providing its leaders with an historic opportunity to reverse the countrys ills, he said. Such an agreement could provide a basis to address the demands of other marginalized regions of the Sudan, including Darfur.
The Secretary-General remained concerned that some elements on both sides to the North-South negotiations could see an interest in undermining the chances of concluding a comprehensive peace agreement, he said. He, therefore, called on the leaders of the parties to redouble their efforts to conclude an agreement by the agreed deadline. Once the comprehensive peace agreement was signed, the Secretary-General would report to the Council and present his recommendations regarding the size, structure and mandate of a full mission to replace the present advance mission, as specified in resolution 1574.
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