The international and African peacekeepers (UNAMID) are packing their bags to leave the troubled region of Darfur (western Sudan), by the end of their mandate next Friday, due to the increasing fears of a security vacuum before the arrival of the UN mission and the formation of the joint forces between the government of Sudan and the rebel movements.
At the request of Khartoum, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution No. 2559, last Tuesday, to terminate the mission of UNAMID forces on December 31, and within 6 months, 16,000 soldiers deployed since 2007 will leave under Chapter Seven, which authorizes the use of force.
Meanwhile, the work of the United Nations Integrated Mission to Support the Transition in Sudan (UNITAMS) begins at the beginning of the year 2021 in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2525, and among its terms of reference is the completion of the administrative tasks of UNAMID in Darfur.
Although the departure of UNAMID and the solutions of UNAMID came at the request of the Sudanese government, the armed movements that signed the peace agreement and the displaced and refugee community in 175 camps refuse to withdraw the mission due to its weakness.
In an attempt to fill the security vacuum, an emergency meeting between the Ministries of Interior and Defense in Khartoum yesterday, Thursday, discussed security and administrative arrangements following the exit of UNAMID, and the implementation of the plan to protect civilians in Darfur.
And local governments in 5 states in Darfur are in a phase of maximum preparedness to face the security vacuum that will be caused by the end of the mandate of UNAMID, which all their soldiers will do after a week to pack up the luggage and wait for departure.
The Governor of South Darfur State, Musa Mahdi, confirms to Al Jazeera Net that his government has suspended all scheduled programs, and declared a state of maximum readiness to protect IDP camps, UNAMID headquarters and the mission personnel who will need protection with the expiration of the mandate.
The Governor blames the central government for not responding to the requests of the state government two months ago, to send security reinforcements due to information indicating that parties are planning to launch attacks to loot 6 UNAMID headquarters in the state.
In December 2019, the headquarters of the UNAMID mission in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, after being handed over to the government, was subjected to a massive robbery and sabotage by the local population.
The governor says that the state government has provided sufficient forces to protect civilians and UNAMID headquarters from any expected attacks by the incipient (outlaws), and the Ministries of Interior and Defense will take similar measures.
The governor of South Darfur asserts that by May, UNAMID forces will complete his mandate to withdraw and will not be needed, because the government will provide better protection for civilians and its forces will be neutral.
The IDP sit-in was considered a protest against the withdrawal of UNAMID as meaningless, because the Security Council does not make emotional decisions, but according to the developments on the ground, as there is currently no fighting between the government and armed movements. “The atmosphere is suitable for the departure of UNAMID.”
On the other hand, the General Coordination of the Displaced and Refugee Camps decided to return to the sit-in squares at Kalma camp in Nyala and in 155 displaced persons camps in Darfur and 20 refugee camps in Chad and Central Africa, as of tomorrow, Saturday, to refuse to withdraw UNAMID.
Adam, the men of the official spokesperson in charge of the Coordination Committee, said that they “decided to amend the schedule of the sit-in until Saturday instead of next Tuesday, to force the government and the Security Council to withdraw the mission.”
He adds to Al-Jazeera Net that the government is unable to protect farmers and separate them from herders, in addition to the continuing crimes of murder, looting and rape, and if the decision is not reversed, the violations will continue.
Rijal explains that despite the weakness of UNAMID forces, it documents violations through reports, which is a link with the government in light of the lack of trust between the Sudanese forces and the displaced communities.
He warns that the joint forces to be formed from the government forces and the armed movements’ forces will not be able to stop the violations, saying, “We have great hope that the Security Council will retreat.”
The armed movements object to the decision to withdraw UNAMID, but they go beyond the objection station to the square of dealing with the Security Council resolution.
Muhammad Zakaria Farajallah, Deputy Political Secretary of the Justice and Equality Movement, said, “The Security Council’s decision regarding the peace forces is frustrating, because it was possible to maintain UNAMID until the start of the UNITAMS activity, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.”
He confirms to Al-Jazeera Net that they have understood since the negotiations the government’s position calling for the withdrawal of UNAMID for the considerations of Chapter Seven, which detracts from sovereignty, but the mission could have been extended under Chapter VI.
He adds that they have previously requested an extension of UNAMID’s mandate to meet the challenges of security and peace and the roles of repairing the social fabric and providing services to vulnerable groups affected by war, such as children and women.
It is reported that UNAMID could also have played a role in the security arrangements between the government and the movements in the event of a misunderstanding between the two parties as a third party.
The Deputy Political Secretary for Justice and Equality denies that there is no link between the withdrawal of UNAMID and the entry of UNAMID, after reports stated that the military component required that, indicating that this condition came in the context of interpretations.
According to reports, UNAMID, although it is not armed, has pledged to the peace parties to initiate similar activities to UNAMID, with the help of the most vulnerable segments to bridge the UNAMID gap.
He notes that UNAMID has become a thing of the past, and the parties to peace must meet reality by filling its void and discussing the fate of its headquarters and equipment, which, according to mission officials, will not return to any governmental or security agency.
It is advisable to accelerate the file of security arrangements to fill the vacuum, because the peace agreement provides for the formation of a joint force numbering 12,000 members, equally between the government and the movements.
Advice to the government
The Secretary-General of the Darfur Lawyers Association, Al-Sadiq Ali Hassan, agrees that the exit of UNAMID after the Security Council resolution has become a reality, and he tells Al-Jazeera Net that although the performance of its forces was below the standard, its presence was necessary under the current circumstances.
He adds that there are a few days left to implement the Security Council resolution and plans must be made after UNAMID goes, because the reasons for its deployment are still valid, and he suggests that the government sit down with the displaced and agree with them on plans to bridge the security gap.
He affirms that the international community found in the change of Al-Bashir and the Juba Peace Agreement an opportunity to withdraw UNAMID and abandon its humanitarian obligations towards the displaced in the camps due to many circumstances, not necessarily the improvement of conditions on the ground or the elimination of the causes of displacement.
The Secretary-General of the Darfur Bar Association advises the displaced to pay attention and rethink independently from the international community regarding their presence in the camps, and to deal with the new situation so that the exit of UNAMID does not affect community cohesion.