Report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (S/2017/746)

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1. 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 and analysis of the conflict, as well as an overview of the political situation and the operational environment in Darfur, the main challenges to the effective implementation of the mandate, including violations of the status-of-forces agreement, from 6 June to 15 August 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 of the strategic review, including the financing strategy for the transfer of tasks to the United Nations country team.

II. Conflict analysis

2. Residual clashes between the Government of the Sudan and the Darfur rebel movements that had launched incursions late in May occurred in North Darfur, while the fragmentation of the armed oppositions continued, their breakaway factions forming alliances with or against the Government. Intercommunal fighting also persisted across Darfur, with a slight increase in the number of fatalities compared to the corresponding period of 2016, mainly over land and livestock disputes. Violence against civilians, perpetrated primarily by armed militia, also manifested resource dimensions, the majority of cases occurring in farmland, or as part of the efforts to deter internally displaced persons from returning to their home villages. Civilians were also caught in confrontations between armed militias and government security personnel, including attacks against the police and the Rapid Support Forces. The humanitarian situation was exacerbated by flooding and the outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea in some parts of Darfur. Meanwhile, political reshuffles following the formation of the Government of National Accord were extended to the local level, but the ruling party maintained overall control of the existing structures. Progress pertaining to the Darfur peace process and the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur remained modest, a situation compounded by the refusal of the non-signatory movements of the Doha Document to commit themselves to the resumption of talks.

Fighting between the Government of the Sudan and armed groups and its impact on security

3. Following the clashes between the Government and the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi (SLA/MM) and the Sudan Liberation Army/Transitional Council, a splinter faction of the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW), in North and East Darfur, from 20 to 29 May, UNAMID received security clearance to access the Ayn Sero area, 30 km north-west of Kutum in North Darfur, on 8 June.
The patrol received reports of civilian casualties and looting in the area. The Government forces and SLA/MM clashed on 9 June in Uru, 39 km north-west of Umm Barru in North Darfur. Eleven SLA/MM members were reportedly killed, while three Sudanese security personnel sustained minor injuries. On 17 June, 13 SLA/MM members surrendered to the Sudanese Armed Forces in Ayn Sero.

4. In Central Darfur, on 10 June, there was a confrontation between the Sudanese Armed Forces and SLA/AW elements in Thur village, 15 km south of Nertiti, triggered by an alleged theft by the latter of livestock belonging to the Nawaibah clan of the Northern Rizeigat. On 14 June, a group of armed Nawaibah attacked internally displaced persons, killing two of them, in Wisa village near the Thur East camp for internally displaced persons. On 18 June, Nawaibah militia clashed with a group of SLA/AW elements in the vicinity of the Thur East camp, which led to the injury of one Nawaibah, followed by the intervention of the Sudanese Armed Forces and police personnel.

5. In Sortony, North Darfur, the situation involving former SLA/AW elements, now called the SLA/Popular Defence (SLA/PD) following their defection to the Government in January 2017, and frictions with the internally displaced populations and Arab nomads in the area, remained precarious. On 17 June, a group of Sudanese Armed Forces soldiers and the Northern Rizeigat from Kube water point, 5 km north-west of Sortony, arrived at the gathering site for internally displaced persons, reportedly to seek missing livestock. Tensions increased as a group of SLA/PD also arrived at the scene in armed vehicles. Although the Sudanese soldiers and Rizeigat personnel returned to Kube after UNAMID troops prevented their entry into the gathering site, the Arab nomads threatened on 18 June to break off any dialogue with the internally displaced persons and resort to violence if the livestock issue was not resolved. On 20 June, UNAMID prevented another attempt by Sudanese Armed Forces and Arab nomads to enter the gathering site in Sortony in search of the SLA/PD leader. On 6 July, Arab militiamen ambushed a group of SLA/PD in Dible village, 10 km west of Sortony, killing four and wounding three others. UNAMID patrols to Kube water point on 17 and 18 July observed that the local residents, predominantly Arabs, had deserted the area, possibly in fear of reprisals.

Intercommunal conflicts

6. Intercommunal violence persisted in Darfur over land and livestock disputes: 10 cases resulted in 74 fatalities, in comparison to 11 clashes resulting in 96 fatalities during the previous period. At the heart of these conflicts are unresolved issues on the use of land for farming or the grazing and migration of livestock.
Reconciliation efforts by local governments remained temporary measures, as evident from the frequent breaches of the peace agreements between the communities. The Government also launched disarmament campaigns to contain violence, but underlying causes of land ownership and access remained unaddressed.

7. In South Darfur, notwithstanding the agreement signed in August 2016 among the leaders of seven major tribes in Shattaya, 94 km north-west of Kass, the Misseriya attacked Fur returnees in the area on 26 June, burning down their properties so that they would leave for a nearby camp for internally displaced persons. The Government deployed security forces and arrested two perpetrators.
On 8 June, fighting broke out between the Rizeigat and the Gimir in Sesaban village, 50 km south-east of Katilla, and one Gimir and two Rizeigat were killed. In retaliation, on 9 June, Rizeigat attacked a mosque in Sesaban, during which two Rizeigat, one Gimir and one Fallata were killed. Local authorities deployed forces, and on 15 June, the Rizeigat and the Gimir signed an agreement on cessation of hostilities. On 20 July, armed Fallata in military attire attacked 20 Salamat and killed 5 of them, in Hashabah valley, 16 km south-west of Graida, as the latter were moving with their livestock towards Nyala. In the Dawis area, 14 km north-east of Kass, armed Huttiya Arabs clashed with Tunjur over farmland ownership on 30 July, and five Tunjur were reportedly killed.

8. In Central Darfur, despite the peace agreement signed between the Salamat and the Misseriya on 29 May, the Salamat attacked the Misseriya in the Sure area, 40 km north-east of Um Dukhun, on 12 June, causing the death of one Misseriya.

9. In East Darfur, on 26 June, the conflict between the Ma‘aliya and Hamar reignited, despite a reconciliation agreement signed in 2014, when the Ma ‘aliya clashed with the El Gekhisat clan of the Hamar in Karkadeh village, 18 km west of Sharif, over livestock theft. Six Hamar and three Ma‘aliya were killed, and UNAMID accompanied local authorities to visit the area. However, on 28 June, another confrontation occurred at Um Totahana village, 65 km north-east of Adilla, in which one Misseriya inhabitant of the area was killed. On 21 July, a series of clashes occurred between the Ma‘aliya and the Rizeigat in Esharaya, 7 km north of Kelikili, and El Mujelid, 60 km north of Ed Daein, which resulted in the death of 14 Rizeigat. Fighting continued on 23 and 24 July in Al Sahab village, 37 km northwest of Abu Karinka, and in Hasab Ala, 17 km north-east of Ed Daein, and resulted in the deaths of two Ma‘aliya and 25 Rizeigat. The state government deployed security forces on 24 and 28 July, Sudanese Armed Forces arrived in Ed Daein to disarm and confiscate weapons from the Rizeigat and the Ma‘aliya, and arrested traditional leaders and civilians from both communities on 29 July. On 1 August,
Rapid Support Forces also started to disarm civilians in Abu Karinka and Adilla, and arrested Ma‘aliya leaders and some civilians on 4 August. These measures have generated resentment among the two communities.

Violence against civilians and human rights violations

10. Despite the reduction in the number of armed clashes, the security and human rights situation in Darfur remained volatile. UNAMID documented 94 cases of human rights violations and abuses involving 204 victims, including 22 children, compared to 82 cases involving 124 victims during the previous reporting period. Violations of the right to life accounted for 17 cases involving 81 victims, and violations of the right to physical integrity accounted for 37 cases involving 82 victims. There were 27 cases of sexual and gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, involving 37 victims, including 9 children, and 3 cases of arbitrary arrest and illegal detention involving 6 victims. There were seven abduction cases involving 27 victims. In total, UNAMID confirmed 63 cases of human rights violations and abuses involving 128 victims, while the remaining 31 cases, with 76 victims, could not be verified owing to various factors, including access restrictions. Of the 94 reported cases, 10 cases involving 22 victims were reportedly perpetrated by government security forces and auxiliary groups. The remaining 84 cases, with 182 victims, were allegedly perpetrated by unidentified armed men, some described by the victims as Arabs.

11. While the Government has taken steps to strengthen judicial institutions and to combat impunity through the deployment of judges, prosecutors and police personnel in Darfur, victims of human rights violations and abuses continue to report their limited access to justice. The number of investigations of human rights violations remains low, as are success rates by the police in apprehending perpetrators. Investigations were initiated in only 14 of the 94 documented cases, resulting in nine arrests.

12. UNAMID continued to observe abductions and attacks of farmers by armed individuals, often described as Arabs. On 1 July, a farmer was killed in the outskirts of Tawilah, North Darfur, by two armed men described as Arabs. On 9 June, an internally displaced person was shot dead at his farm by members of a militia group outside Mershing, South Darfur. On 18 June, 16 civilians were abducted in Dubu-alOmda in eastern Jebel Marra in South Darfur, and they have not been released. In another incident on 20 June, armed individuals shot and seriously injured a civilian in Beida, West Darfur. On 18 June a police officer shot and injured a civilian in Habila, West Darfur.

13. UNAMID also recorded 38 incidents of access denial to farms and arbitrary land occupation, in the majority of which nomadic herders claimed ownership of properties on the grounds of prolonged absence by the internally displaced persons.
Tensions between farmers and nomadic herders are likely to increase with the onset of the farming season.

14. The plight of internally displaced persons, particularly women and children, remained critical because of insecurity. Internally displaced persons were victims of 101 crimes, which led to 13 fatalities. Other civilians were affected by 217 crimes resulting in 48 fatalities, including cases of murder (37), armed robbery (29), attempted robbery (6), assault/harassment (70), burglary/break-in (5), looting (2), abduction (14), arson (2), shooting (33), attack/ambush (6), threat of violence (4), livestock theft (8) and other crimes (1). The level of criminality and the number of criminality-related deaths remained almost unchanged, compared to the previous 60-day period, when 97 crimes against internally displaced persons resulted in 19 fatalities and 205 crimes with 44 fatalities affected other civilians. Random night shooting in and around camps for internally displaced persons remained a major concern. For example, on 26 June, armed Rapid Support Forces personnel entered the Ardamata camp for internally displaced persons in El Geneina, West Darfur, and fired indiscriminately when residents asked them to leave. They arrested four of the internally displaced persons, who were released later at the intervention of local authorities. Similar shooting incidents were reported in the Krinding and Dorti camps in West Darfur and the Khamsa Dagayeg and Hasahisa camps in Central Darfur.

15. In Central Darfur, on 28 June, two suspected Sudanese Armed Forces soldiers shot and wounded a Fur internally displaced person inside the North camp, 5 km north-east of Nertiti. On the same day, a robbery attempt of a Fur by armed militia in Kaira, 38 km north-east of Nertiti, escalated into a clash that resulted in the death of five militia members and three locals. Fearing retaliation, the locality commissioner instructed the inhabitants to evacuate from the area to Golo, while facilitating reconciliation between the two parties.

16. In South Darfur, on 22 July, Arab nomads attacked a group of Fur internally displaced persons from the Kalma camp who were farming in Hajar Tono, 68 km south-east of Nyala, killing six of them. The incident prompted an unverified number of internally displaced persons to leave the area and return to the Kalma camp. The Sudanese police deployed reinforcements to the area and arrested two suspects, but on 26 and 27 July armed Arabs shot and wounded a girl and raped two women, respectively, all of whom were returning from Hajar Tono village to the Kalma camp owing to the deterioration in the security situation in the return area.

Crime and banditry

17. Confrontations between armed militia and government security personnel also led to civilian casualties. In West Darfur, on 29 July, a group of Arab herders attacked a police station in Terbiba village, 20 km south-west of Masteri, killing two and injuring three others, including a civilian, in retaliation for the Sudanese police having chased livestock away from a farming area in Terbiba. The Government security forces were deployed to the area to contain the situation.

18. The Government intensified its disarmament campaign. On 6 August, the national high committee for the collection of weapons and non-registered vehicles issued a statement, directing those in possession of weapons, ammunition, explosives or unregistered vehicles to hand them over to the government security institutions, with immediate effect. The following day, the Second Vice-President,
Hassabo Mohamed Abdel Rahman, initiated a tour of Darfur to promote the disarmament campaign. On 13 August, the media reported that Musa Hilal and other commanders of the Border Guards Force rejected the government disarmament plan categorically. They also denounced the arrest of Rizeigat and Ma‘aliya tribal leaders by the Rapid Support Forces following their clashes in East Darfur, and refused any merger with those forces.