UNAMID’s presence in Darfur remains necessary [fr]
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 14 June 2019
I too would like to thank both briefers for their insights and analysis, and we echo what my colleagues from the United Kingdom and Germany have just said. I would like to focus on three points. They are our concern about the situation, the urgent need to do everything we can to prevent Darfur from again relapsing into conflict and the call for suspending the withdrawal of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), given the current circumstances.
I should first explain our deep concern about the situation in the Sudan. France strongly condemns the violence in the Sudan in recent days. Peaceful demonstrators were repressed with severe brutality. Such disproportionate use of force is unacceptable. We urge all actors to exercise restraint and not to resort to violence. The Transitional Military Council has the primary responsibility to ensure the safety of all Sudanese people. In the light of Pramila Patten’s very worrying statement, France calls for a full investigation into the abuses committed, including sexual violence, and for those responsible to be brought to justice.
The challenge today in the Sudan is the resumption of political dialogue and the negotiated transition to civilian-led rule. We call on all parties to resume talks, to show restraint and openness and to seek compromise. We recall that the deadline agreed by the African Union for the transfer of power to a civilian-led transitional authority will expire on 30 June.
France welcomes the African Union’s firm and clear position. We hope that the United Nations can fully back the mediation efforts of the African Union, with the support of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. This is what France has called for in recent days, including at the meeting between the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairsand the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in Paris on 11 June.
In that regard, I welcome the mission entrusted by the Secretary-General to his Special Adviser, Nicholas Haysom, to support the African Union mediation.
The initial results are encouraging; the mediation has brought both parties back to the negotiating table, which is a very positive step.
We call on all partners of Sudan, particularly the countries of the region and Sudan’s closest partners, to join their energy to support an African Union mediation. The stability of the Sudan can be ensured only if we all work toward the same goal and speak with one voice.
My second point is that we must do all we can to prevent Darfur from being set ablaze again.
We are extremely concerned about reports of violence in Darfur in recent days, particularly in Jebel Marra, which show that the situation today is once again very volatile. As we know, Darfur remains a fragile region, where the root causes of the conflict, including access to land and the future of 2 million displaced persons, have not really been settled. We must do everything we can to prevent the region from collapsing again.
UNAMID must therefore remain in the strongest position to enable it to carry out its missions, particularly the protection of civilians. We were particularly shocked by the attack on and looting of the El Geneina camp in mid-May.
The involvement of members of the Sudanese defence and security forces is unacceptable. We call on the authorities to shed full light on those acts and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
In addition, I would like to reiterate the importance of combating impunity in Darfur. Serious crimes, including those against children and sexual violence, have been carried out for a long time and continue. I recall that all parties to the conflict have an obligation to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court and its Prosecutor, in accordance with resolution 1593 (2005).
Finally, in the current context, we must defer any decision on the withdrawal of UNAMID.
It is more necessary than ever to advocate for a responsible and prudent withdrawal of the mission. We must postpone any decision on its withdrawal for several months, for two reasons.
First, we cannot, in the space of two weeks, decide to transfer the remaining 15 bases to the Sudanese authorities when we have no legitimate and reliable interlocutor in the Government in Khartoum. On the contrary, last week’s violence compels us to exercise the utmost caution. UNAMID was right to freeze the transfer of its bases as long as the decree by the Transitional Military Council last month — which said that UNAMID camps should be handed over to the Rapid Support Forces — is in effect. That decree contravenes the agreements concluded between the Sudan and the United Nations and must be annulled, as stated in the communiqué issued yesterday by the Chairperson of the African Union Peace and Security Council.
Finally, the situation in Darfur is so unstable and volatile at the moment that the presence of UNAMID will still be necessary in the coming months. I am thinking in particular of the mission to protect civilians, report human rights violations, resolve intercommunal conflicts, facilitate humanitarian access and protect humanitarian personnel. Given the current conditions, my delegation supports the proposal of the United Kingdom and Germany for a technical renewal of the mission’s mandate.