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UNAMID’s Mandate in Darfur Renewed until August 2014

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 30 2013 (IPS) - The 15-member U.N. Security Council voted unanimously in favour of renewing the mandate of the joint African Union – U.N. Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) for 13 additional months.

The decision to keep the 14,800 Blue Helmets comes as a direct result of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report on the progress of the UNAMID’s mandate issued on Jul. 12 and several rounds of negotiations at the U.N. in July. The main tasks of the peacekeeping forces in the past seven years have been to assist political reconciliation and protect civilians.

The overall security situation in Darfur has improved since the deployment of UNAMID in 2007. But the conflict that broke out in 2003 between the government of Sudan and several armed rebel groups is still far from a settlement.

Allegations of non-Arab citizens’ marginalisation by the government are at the roots of the dissensions.

In his July 12 report, the Secretary-General notes that clashes between government and rebel forces since January 2013 “resulted in an estimated 300,000 people being displaced, more than the combined total displaced in Darfur within the past two years.”

Seven blue helmets were also killed on Jul. 13 in Western Sudan in one of the deadliest attacks since UNAMID was deployed in the country. The new resolution therefore emphasizes the need for better training and equipments as well as more flexibility in deployment of the forces.

The persisting tensions in Darfur originate from its complex political environment. At the Security Council’s session Monday, Sudan’s Permanent Representative Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman underscored the refusal of several parties involved in the conflict to adhere to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur adopted in 2011.

The agreement nominated a vice-President, established a Darfur Regional Authority and was signed along with a ceasefire. It was originally signed between the government of Darfur and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM). Only one rebel movement subsequently joined the accord: the faction of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) led by Mohamed Bashar.

Six weeks after signing the Doha Document, Bashar was killed. The new leader of the faction however renewed his commitment to the peace process. Ali Osman Monday expressed his support to the Security Council in condemning the assassination of Bashar.

As things stand, the implementation of the Doha Agreement remains “at an unacceptably slow pace,” according to Ban’s report. For this reason, he concludes that “the UNAMID remains essential.”

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