January 10, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - UN peacekeeping chief has urged the Security Council to allocate funds for the consolidate peacebuilding process in Darfur as he admitted a tangible improvement in the security situation on the ground.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Security Council about the joint African Union-United Nations assessment of the UNAMID’s phase one reconfiguration conducted during the period from 7 to 17 November 2017.
The assessment report confirms that after the military victory against the rebel movements in May 2017, "the Government of Sudan is firmly consolidating its control and state authority across Darfur".
He told the 15-member council that in line with the UNAMID reduction plan authorized last June, 11 sites have been handed over to the government since 31 October, two months before the deadline initially fixed.
However, the French diplomat underlined that the situation in Jebel Marra remains an exception as there are some "pockets" " controlled by a fragmented and weakened Sudan Liberation Army/Abdel Wahid (SLA/AW), and with the other rebel groups being engaged in neighbouring countries in mercenary and criminal activities".
He further disclosed that the Sudanese government "notified on 7 January of having allocated land for the Golo team site, although details on the actual establishment of the site are yet to be agreed upon.
The move is crucial for the implementation of the two-pronged approach providing to focus on protection in the Jebel Marra area and on stabilizing the situation in other parts of Darfur, as endorsed by the Security Council.
Based on this situation he announced they are moving towards the implementation of phase two of the reconfiguration and called to consider a new mission concept with adjusted priorities before to renew UNAMID mandate next June.
He further recommended considering as an "issue of high priority" the allocation of funds to support the peacebuilding process in Darfur
He said: "Funding for the consolidation of peacebuilding efforts in Darfur should be treated by Member States as a political issue of high priority to protect investments made to date in peace and to avoid a relapse into conflict".
A UN report issued in May 2008, on the role of natural resources and environment on the conflicts and peace-building says that "environmental stress and the exploitation of natural resources can increase the severity and duration of conflict, and complicate its resolution".
Citing the case of Darfur, the same UNDP report points that around one-third of the region’s population has been displaced in or close to cities or in large camps, as a consequence of the conflict in Darfur.
This has caused a dramatic increase in population in the internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps, compounding pressures on water, wood and land resources.
The groundwater resources, according to the report, appear to be under severe stress. "Of the 66 boreholes drilled in Abu Shouk and Al Salaam camps, 12 to 15 boreholes have already run dry," the report said.
It also points that where IDPs have settled on the outskirts of towns, farmland and sheltering tree belts have been damaged or removed entirely.
The UN official didn’t specify plans that the UN can fund, but the UN Environment Programme has called desertification “Sudan’s greatest environmental problem” that has driven the social, political and economic systems of Darfur to violent conflict.
Even if there is no new displacement in Darfur recently, Lacroix said there are 2.7 million people displaced, out of which 2.1 million are in need of assistance across Darfur, and 1.6 million living in a range of camps and settlements.
He mentioned the recent return of refugees from neighbouring countries particularly the Central African Republic adding "The lack of security, basic services and sustainable livelihoods in return areas, as well as issues related to land ownership, have become major impediments to return," he stressed.