Report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (S/2017/1113) [EN/AR]
- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2363 (2017), by which the Council extended the mandate of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) until 30 June 2018 and requested me to report, every 60 days, on its implementation. The report provides an update on and analysis of the conflict, the political situation and the operational environment in Darfur and the main challenges to the effective implementation of the mandate, including violations of the status-of-forces agreement, for the period from 15 October until 15 December 2017. It also presents the steps taken by UNAMID towards achieving its benchmarks and provides an update on progress in the implementation of the recommendations contained in the special report of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the strategic review of UNAMID (S/2017/437).
II. Conflict analysis
- While the reporting period did not witness any armed clashes between the forces of the Government of the Sudan and the Darfur armed groups, the initiation of the mandatory stage of the weapons collection campaign across Darfur and its launch in the camps for internally displaced persons created new dynamics. In addition, the start of the migration season continues to generate violence among communities, although at lower levels than in previous years. No tangible progress was noted in the Darfur political process, nor in the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. The level of displacement remained the same as in the previous reporting period, with the number of returnees insignificant, while the number of refugees from South Sudan to Darfur reached 192,826, with over 89,000 arriving in 2017 to East, North and South Darfur.
Fighting between the Government of the Sudan forces and armed groups
The armed groups of the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi (SLA/MM) and the Gibril Ibrahim faction of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM/Gibril) remained largely inactive in Darfur, while the area of operations of the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) continued to be limited to pockets of the Jebel Marra amid reports of further fragmentations and involvement in acts of banditry. UNAMID reported clashes between a suspected dormant cell of JEM and Sudanese Armed Forces/Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Birkat Saira area, 25 km east of Saraf Omra, on 22 November, in the context of the weapons collection campaign, which resulted in the capture of 16 rebels. A clash also took place in Feina, north-east of Kass, on 21 October, when SLA/AW reportedly encroached an area controlled by a splinter group.
Amid continued disagreements on reaching a permanent ceasefire, SLA/MM, JEM/Gibril and Sudan Liberation Movement/Transitional Council (SLM/TC) extended their unilateral cessation of hostilities until 31 January 2018.
Weapons collection campaign and impact on security
The initiation of the second phase of the mandatory collection of weapons as of mid-October has de facto strengthened the control of RSF over the security situation in Darfur, while expanding the scope of the campaign to the camps for internally displaced persons. In this context, Government forces defeated the Savanna militia group, composed mainly of Southern Rizeigat, after clashes in Kutum, North Darfur, on 23 October, then in Shearia, East Darfur, on 30 October, and finally in Korma area, North Darfur, on 10 November, where they captured its leader, Abdallah Rizkallah, and nine militia. On 26 November, 14 RSF and nine border guards were killed, following a reported ambush against RSF by the border guard units under the command of Musa Hilal. RSF eventually arrested Musa Hilal in his stronghold of Misteriya, North Darfur, and transferred him to Khartoum.
In the same context, the Government is reasserting control over the camps for internally displaced persons, including settlements that, to date, had been considered out of their reach. On 2 November, in an apparent show of force, its security forces entered parts of the Kalma camp in South Darfur, with dozens of gun trucks and anti personnel carriers. Subsequently, the Joint Special Representative held two meetings with the Second Vice-President of the Sudan and with the Governor of South Darfur, on 9 and 14 November, which resulted in the establishment of a trilateral committee composed of the internally displaced persons, the state government and UNAMID, to oversee the collection of weapons in Kalma camp as of 10 December. No incidents have been reported to date.
In several camps for internally displaced persons in Central Darfur, namely, North and Straina camps in Nertiti area, and Hasahisa, Hamidiya Khamsa and Dagayeg in the Zalingei area, and surrounding areas comprising of Orokom Fatnakaral and Tamar Boljimail villages, the communities expressed concern about the involvement of RSF in the disarmament campaign and requested UNAMID presence during the conduct of the exercise.
The start of seasonal migration in October was marked by a higher number of fatalities and an increase in criminality, notably in North and West Darfur. During the period under review, three intercommunal clashes occurred, resulting in 45 fatalities, compared with eight clashes, resulting in 19 fatalities, reported during the previous period. All the clashes were attributable to disputes over livestock, criminality and revenge attacks. Some farming communities requested protection from RSF to prevent potential clashes with migrating herders. In October, following clashes between the Ma’aliya and the Rizeigat in East Darfur, the Sudanese Armed Forces were withdrawn and replaced by RSF in the buffer zone between the two groups.
Communal tensions were reported in West, North and South Darfur. In West Darfur, subclans of the Rizeigat (Awlad Id, Awlad Zaid and Ereigat) clashed with the Zaghawa on 17 October in Hatam village (25 km south-east of Kulbus town), over the ownership of camels, which resulted in the deaths of 16 Zaghawa and 11 Rizeigat. The Sudan-Chad joint border forces were deployed to contain the violence. In North Darfur, following the killing of two Mahariya on 18 October, the kinsmen of the deceased traced the perpetrators to Umm La‘ota village (9 km north-west of Kabkabiyah town), where two Mahariya and two Tama were killed during the ensuing clashes. The authorities, in collaboration with RSF, managed to contain the situation. In South Darfur, the Salamat and the Fallata clashed on 24 October over cattle rustling in the Dejaj area (55 km west of Graida) in which four Fallata, including two women, and five Salamat men were killed.
The annual migration of nomadic herders, which usually coincides with the harvest season, was marked by an increase in criminality in the areas of El Fasher, Kabkabiyah, Kutum and Tawilah in North Darfur as well as El Geneina and Masteri in West Darfur, increasing tensions between farmers and herders. On 25 October, the crop protection committee in Khazan Jadid, East Darfur, reported rising tensions between farmers and herders in the western areas due to large numbers of the Baggara and the Abbala migrating north to south. In South Darfur, on 27 October, a group of armed nomads attacked Fallata and Fur returnees in Funguli village, 54 km north-west of the team site at Menawashei, in East Jebel Marra locality, killing five and injuring several others. There were also reports of armed nomads destroying farms in Shangil Tobaya, North Darfur, on 29 October.
In the meantime, positive developments took place on two outstanding conflicts in South and East Darfur. On 29 October, the Salamat and the Habbaniya held a forum on peaceful coexistence in Buram, South Darfur, where they signed a reconciliation agreement, following the cessation of hostilities agreement of 12 May 2017. On 2 November, the state government facilitated exchange visits for the Habbaniya to Nadeif and the Salamat to Buram, as a confidence-building measure. On 30 October, the Government released nine Rizeigat and four Ma’aliya leaders who were arrested in July following intercommunal fighting and other criminal activities.
Violence against civilians and human rights violations
Despite the reduction in armed clashes and a decrease in the number of human rights violations, the overall human rights situation remains of concern. There were 58 cases of human rights violations and abuses, involving 123 victims, including 18 minors, compared to 72 cases, involving 253 victims, including 16 minors, during the previous reporting period. Arbitrary arrests and illegal detention accounted for three cases, involving 24 victims. Violations of the right to life accounted for 11 cases, involving 17 victims, violations of the right to physical integrity (assault) accounted for 31 cases, involving 64 victims, and abductions accounted for two cases, involving five victims. UNAMID confirmed the occurrence of 40 cases of human rights violations and abuses, involving 77 victims, while the remaining 18 cases, involving 50 victims, could not be verified owing to various factors, including local access restrictions. Of the 58 reported cases, eight cases, involving 34 victims, were reportedly perpetrated by Government armed forces and military intelligence, the National Intelligence and Security Service and RSF, two cases involving, two victims, were reportedly perpetrated by male civilians and the remaining 46 cases, accounting for 85 victims, were allegedly perpetrated by unidentified armed men. Investigations were initiated in 26 of the documented cases, resulting in 11 arrests.
There were 11 cases of sexual and gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, in the form of rape, involving 13 victims, including 9 female minors. UNAMID continued to highlight the negative impact of sexual violence on the lives of women, especially young girls, and the need for action on the part of the Government to combat violence against women. Sustained emphasis was placed on the need for unfettered access to sites of alleged incidents in order to interview victims and document cases, as well as to facilitate medical care and psychosocial support for victims so as to avert long-term negative health implications, especially on minor girls.
Communities of internally displaced persons were also subject to security-related incidents in Darfur. They were the target of 123 criminal incidents, which led to eight fatalities. Other civilians were affected by 208 crime-related incidents, resulting in 42 fatalities, including cases of murder (32), armed robbery (22), attempted robbery (2), assault/harassment (60), burglary/break-in (3), looting (1), abduction (7), shooting (52), threat of violence (3), livestock theft (12), arson (1) and other crimes (13). In the previous reporting period, internally displaced persons were affected by 45 criminal incidents, resulting in six fatalities, and other civilians were affected by 73 criminal incidents, resulting in 10 fatalities.