South Africa’s withdrawal from the hybrid AU/UN mission in Sudan does not appear to have taken consideration of issues on the ground with the world body this saying intensified fighting is resulting in a rapidly worsening security situation.
The South African commitment to UNAMID is over with 8 SA Infantry Battalion now in the process of withdrawal before returning home.
UN under-secretary-general Herve Ladsous said on Thursday the security situation in Darfur has been characterised by fighting between government forces and fighters of the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdel Wahid (SLA/AW) in the Jebel Marra region which straddles north, central and south Darfur.
The Sudanese government maintains it has taken control of the entire Jebel Marra region “with the exception of a few pockets of resistance.” The SLA/AW has denied those claims, maintaining it has pushed the Government offensive back. “The escalation of fighting in Jebel Marra had led to large-scale displacement, especially from mid-January to late March and humanitarian organisations estimated at least 138 000 people from that region were newly displaced as of the end of March,” Ladsous said.
Due to Government restrictions on access, the exact number of civilian causalities could not be ascertained he said adding the AU/UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and relief agencies have been prevented from addressing the protection and humanitarian needs of the displaced. While emphasising the difficulty of establishing an objective assessment of fighting due to the access restrictions, he said it was clear there had been continued clashes and aerial bombardments.
“The security situation in other parts of Darfur remains fragile with underlying tensions among and between local tribes over the access to, use and management of land, water and other resources, leading to persistent outbreaks of inter-communal conflicts despite measures taken by the local authorities to contain the clashes,” Ladsous said adding UNAMID continued to support Government efforts to mediate those conflicts and advocated consistently for addressing their root causes in a comprehensive manner.
However, the proliferation of small arms and the presence of various militia groups had led to a rise in criminality and various types of banditry against civilians, he said. In spite of some improvements, the general weakness of the rule of law across Darfur had resulted in such violations going largely unpunished.
Despite the volatile security situation and considerable challenges UNAMID remains steadfast in the implementation of its strategic priorities, including the protection of civilian and displaced populations.