Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Meeting on the United Nations and African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), 14 June 2019
My delegation would like to thank you for convening this meeting. We also thank the briefers for their comprehensive briefings which have highlighted a number of key issues that still require our steadfast commitment.
I would like to focus on two key issues, UNAMID and the political situation in Sudan.
However, at the outset Mr President, I would like to note that South Africa deplores the loss of innocent lives which took place in recent days in Zalingi, Darfur and expresses its condolences to the families of the deceased and further wishes a speedy recovery to the injured persons.
Now let me turn to UNAMID, we would like to express our appreciation to the Joint Special Representative, Mr J Mamabolo and the UNAMID team for all their efforts in difficult conditions, which has culminated into the drawdown of 4000 troops currently.
We further welcome UNAMID’s continued work with national and local authorities as well as the UN Country Team and other partners to facilitate mediation and address the underlying issues of access to land and resources.
While noting the significant progress achieved in the peace keeping and peace-building efforts in Darfur, we are concerned with the security challenges that persist and human rights violations as highlighted in the Special Report of the Chairperson and SG. In particular the violence against civilians is unacceptable. Furthermore, women and children remain the most vulnerable and affected by sexual violence which continues to be a weapon of war during conflict.
As regards the proposed drawdown, we would like to reiterate the decision of the AUPSC of 13 June 2019. It is our view that in-line with the Strategic Assessment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur of 1 June 2019, and given the unfolding situation in Sudan, that the drawdown and liquidation process should be carried out as follows:
- It should be done in a responsible manner and UNAMID troops should be relocated to the remaining team sites which have been identified as security hot spots, until such a time that the situation is stabilized;
- It should be systematic, taking into account the security conditions on the ground and the broader Sudan; and
- It should ensure that there is no vacuum created, which could hamper the progress registered, as well as undermine the protection of civilians.
We support that UNAMID continues to address security concerns of the local communities and IDPs, particularly given the current volatile situation.
Mr President, perhaps, it is timely that we ask the following questions:
- Whether we should stick to the original drawdown time frames?
- Do we not want to reassess the situation, and then recalibrate?
The situation has evolved, the situation is not the same in the centre, and we cannot proceed as if nothing has happened. Darfur is also part of the broader Sudan and is implicated in this regard.
- There is too much contestation of power and mistrust.
- There is an urgent need for an assessment of the drawdown.
- The UNSC should reject the TMC decree to handover team sites to the RSF; We should call on the TMC to immediately, and without conditions rescind this decision and allow UNAMID to handover identified assets to civilian entities.
In terms of the attacks and looting of the UNAMID and UN Agencies properties we wish to reiterate and remind the Republic of Sudan of its primary responsibility to provide protection to both the civilian population and the UN property and calls on Sudan to investigate and bring to account the people that carried out these crimes.
On the political situation, too many people have lost their lives, the political situation has created so much uncertainty.
In this regard, in line with the AUPSC Communiqué of 13 June and the A3 Press Statement of 3 June 2019, we strongly condemn and lament the tragic and unjustified loss of life and remind the transitional authorities in Sudan of its obligation to protect civilians and respect their fundamental rights.
We urge the Transitional Military Council to return to the internal dialogue with the aim of responding swiftly and effectively to the legitimate aspirations of the Sudanese people.
Furthermore, we call on the TMC to return to the framework established by the African Union. We underline the primacy of African-led initiatives in search for a lasting solution to the crisis in Sudan.
In this regard we welcome the efforts of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, Chair of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for bringing the parties back to the negotiation table. This approach is consistent with the approach of the AU Communiqué of 6 June 2019. It is key that the Sudanese chart their own path of peace devoid of interference. This is also vital to ensure that the substantial progress in peace building achieved in Darfur is not reversed. We also welcome all other efforts being undertaken at bilateral level.
South Africa furthermore stresses the importance for UNAMID to continue to provide technical and logistical assistance to the Sudan DDR Commission to assist with disarmament and demobilisation of armed combatants.
South Africa wishes to urge the TMC and FFC and political parties to engage in constructive dialogue in order to restore peace and stability in the country. This is also vital for regional stability, given the volatile state in the region. Sudan remains a key strategic country in the Continent, and it is bordered by seven countries namely Egypt, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Libya. Sudan’s instability would negatively affect the region.
In conclusion Mr President, the socio-economic challenges in Sudan have been part of the root causes of the broader challenges it faces. Therefore, in our support we should also focus on economic development and hone in on financial mobilization to support the country in its economic recovery. We praise the countries that have contributed in this regard.
I thank you
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