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Security Council considers withdrawing peacekeepers from Darfur except for Jebel Marra: group

UNAMID officially handed over the Mission's team site in Tine, North Darfur, to the Government of Sudan, on 19 October 2017 (UNAMID Photo
June 1, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The United Nations Security Council reportedly plans to close all the bases of the hybrid peacekeeping operation in Darfur except in the troubled area of Jebel Marra, says a statement released by a Sudanese advocacy group on Friday.

In June the Security Council will renew the mandate of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) prior to its expiry on 30 June.

On 31 January 2018, the 15-member body adopted a presidential statement requesting a written review to consider a new mission concept with adjusted priorities, to be submitted to the Council by 1 June.

The Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG), says has learnt that the Security Council is holding discussions, for a new proposal providing to significantly reduce " the mandate and scope of the mission’s work" in Darfur.

"The new proposal is intended to confine the mandate of the UNAMID to only the Jebel Mara area, with immediate effect," further said SDFG.

UN reports say the security situation is "relatively stable" pointing that the government forces are in control of the region except for irregular clashes with the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdel Wahid which also clashes with the nomad in the mountainous area.

OCHA estimated that 11,500 people were displaced in Jebel Marra following fighting in April between rebels and the nomads. Also, the rebels and representatives of displaced persons in the area say thousands fled their villages as a result of the fighting from March to May.

The proposal, also, includes reducing UNAMID Human Rights and Monitoring responsibilities.

"This accelerated exit plan aims to complete the withdrawal of the entire mission from Darfur within two years," says the statement. The advocacy group stressed that by doing so, the international community ignores its commitments to protect civilians in Darfur.

"It is reprehensible, that the UNSC and the International Community continue to deliberate accelerated plans for the UNAMID’s withdrawal from Darfur, while killings, rape and forced displacement of thousands of civilians continue to take place in Darfur," said the group.

Since January, UNAMID has implemented phase two of its reconfiguration which includes the reduction of peacekeepers from 11,395 to 8,735 for the military personnel and from 2,888 to 2,500 for police personnel.

Phase-Two is scheduled to be completed on 30 June.

In his most recent report to the Security Council in April, the Secretary-General said that the closure of 11 UNAMID sites under phase one had so far shown "no overall adverse impact".

In a consultations meeting on 10 May, Equatorial Guinea called to invite Thabo Mbeki, African Union mediator for Sudan to brief the Security Council on the political process and for the adoption of "targeted sanctions against recalcitrant groups or individuals who are reluctant to participate in negotiations".

The Sudanese advocacy group called ’’upon all concerned parties and rights groups, to stand against this plan to withdraw remaining troops from Darfur stressing, that "the safety and security of the civilians in Darfur should not be compromised for short-sighted political interests".