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 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 16 December 2017 until 15 February 2018. 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
2. The overall security situation has remained stable. While the dry season is coming to mid-point, no major clashes have taken place between the forces of the Government of the Sudan and the Darfur armed groups; the weapons collection campaign proceeded in the Jebel Marra area, while encountering resistance from the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) elements; tensions increased in some internally displaced persons camps in Central Darfur. The period also witnessed fewer incidents of intercommunal conflicts, banditry and criminality, human rights abuses and cases of harassment, in particular of internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups. The overall humanitarian situation remained largely unchanged, despite the new displacement of several hundred persons from eastern Jebel Marra, as a result of fighting between two SLA/AW factions. The African Union High-level Implementation Panel-led peace process in Darfur remained stalled, and the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur has been constrained by the lack of capacity and resources, for which the Government is seeking external assistance.
Fighting between the Government of the Sudan forces and armed groups
3. The armed groups of the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi (SLA/MM) and Justice and the Gibril Ibrahim faction of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM/Gibril) continued to remain largely inactive in Darfur, while the area of operations of SLA/AW continued to be limited to pockets of the Jebel Marra. On 18 January, UNAMID reported clashes between the Rapid Support Force (RSF) and SLA/AW in Kurmul village, north-east of Golo and near Kati village, 15 km south-east of Golo, in the Jebel Marra, during a weapons collection campaign in the area. Reportedly, one RSF officer was reported killed and another injured. On 24 January, RSF clashed in the border village of Kalabah, some 250 km south of Ed Daein, with a group believed to be JEM/Gibril, which entered from South Sudan. RSF reportedly incurred three fatalities. Nonetheless, the rebel movements JEM, SLA/MM and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Transitional Council (SLM/TC) issued a joint statement on 3 February extending their unilateral cessation of hostilities until 30 April, following a presidential decree on 4 January extending the Government’s own unilateral ceasefire for three months until the end of March.
Weapons collection campaign and impact on security
4. The Government of the Sudan continued its implementation of the compulsory phase of the weapons collection campaign, including in internally displaced persons camps, and recently moved into the Jebel Marra areas under the control of SLA/AW. Some progress has been registered by Darfur state officials since the beginning of the campaign in August last year. The Wali of North Darfur reported that, out of an estimated 700,000 weapons believed to be in illegal circulation across Darfur, only 30,000 (including 9,000 in North Darfur) had been collected. On 20 December, the South Darfur joint weapons collection committee reported that the total number of weapons collected voluntarily in the state was 8,000, including 1,373 collected from the Popular Defence Forces. The committee further reported that, consequently, the crime rate in South Darfur decreased by 24 per cent, while the incidence of major crimes such as murder, armed robbery and rape decreased by 35 per cent over the period of the collection campaign.
5. According to the mission’s assessment, the campaign appears to have constrained various armed militia and criminals from freely using their weapons, thus contributing to an improved overall security situation, especially in North and South Darfur. The leaders of Abu Shouk camp in El Fasher stated that, following the weapons collection campaign in parts of North Darfur, the security situation had improved and some internally displaced persons returned seasonally to their places of origin in Jebel Si in Kabkabiyah locality, in Tila, Hillet Fuocca, Lumbati, Jabalen and Tangarara villages in Korma locality, and Kofod village in El Fasher rural area. Sudan Police sources reported that, in Otash internally displaced persons camp, Nyala, South Darfur, internally displaced persons’ leaders handed over 821 weapons during the voluntary phase of the campaign. In the Kalma internally displaced persons camp in South Darfur, the agreement reached between the Government of the Sudan and the leadership of the camp, facilitated by UNAMID, continued to hold. The Government has committed not to forcefully collect weapons without consultation with UNAMID or the leadership of the internally displaced persons. Massalit leaders have also reported returns in the areas around Graida, South Darfur, following the weapons collection campaign in the locality, but they complained about the lack of basic services and infrastructure, and requested decisive measures on land dispute issues.
6. As the campaign moved into internally displaced persons camps, internally displaced persons were reported to have been either physically assaulted or harassed on a number of occasions by RSF during the weapons collection. On 10 January, at the Thur internally displaced persons camp, Central Darfur, RSF reportedly arrested four internally displaced persons. On 11 January, during the weapons collection in North and Straha internally displaced persons camps, Central Darfur, RSF reportedly arrested 8 Fur and 20 Arab sheikhs in order to gather information about persons in possession of weapons and the hiding places for weapons and motorcycles. While local leaders in Nertiti locality, Central Darfur, expressed support for the weapons collections campaign, they stressed that it should be inclusive in order to also ensure the disarmament of nomadic communities.
7. During the reporting period, the number of intercommunal conflicts over land, livestock thefts and farm destructions decreased, and fatalities also decreased to 11 from 45 during the previous reporting period. Several tribal reconciliation initiatives also took place. Most local communities, including internally displaced persons, attributed this trend to the ongoing weapons collection campaign and more resolute intervention from the Government to prevent an escalation of tensions among communities.
8. In South Darfur, clashes took place between the Mahadi and the Birgid in Hash area, 50 km north-east of Graida, on 17 December, which resulted in one fatality on each side. During 2017, the two communities had disputes over land ownership on the border between Graida and Yasin localities. On 18 December, Government forces were deployed to contain the situation and RSF was mandated to disarm the feuding parties. On 21 December, the Sudan Police Force arrested four umdas (local tribal leaders) and seven youths from the Mahadi community for their involvement in the incident, and the community leaders are working with the local government towards resolving the dispute.
9. In East Darfur, to replace the buffer zone committee between the Ma‘aliva and the Rizeigat that was dissolved in November 2017, the Wali established a joint mechanism on 7 January to regulate agricultural activities and tackle cattle rustling. The mechanism is composed of 14 members with equal representation from both tribes. On 23 January, the Birgid and the Zaghawa, in a ceremony attended by Vice-President Hassabo Mohamed Abdul Rahman, signed a peace agreement in Shearia town, recommending the restitution of Zaghawa properties in Shearia, including shops and houses, allocation of farm lands to Zaghawa returnees and the formation of a mechanism to sustain the return process and the implementation of development programmes, in coordination with the United Nations. On 27 and 28 January, the Vice-President visited Adilla and Abu Karinka, for a reconciliatory meeting between the Ma‘aliva and the Rizeigat, and made a commitment to implement several development projects related to health, education and infrastructure in the area.
Violence against civilians and human rights violations
10. The overall human rights situation in Darfur remained volatile. UNAMID documented cases of violations of the right to life, arbitrary arrests and detention and sexual and gender-based violence and conflict-related sexual violence. Internally displaced and other vulnerable persons continued to face harassment while conducting their daily livelihood activities. UNAMID documented 84 new cases of human rights violations and abuses involving 192 victims, including 27 children, during the reporting period, compared with 58 cases of human rights violations and abuses, involving 123 victims, including 18 children, during the previous reporting period. Violations of the right to life accounted for 12 cases, involving 18 victims, and violations of the right to physical integrity for 27 cases, involving 60 victims. There were 35 cases of sexual and gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, in the form of rape and attempted rape, involving 43 victims, including 22 children (with one male minor), and 9 cases of arbitrary arrest and illegal detention, involving 70 victims.
11. The mission confirmed 64 cases of human rights violations and abuses, involving 171 victims, but the remaining 20 cases, involving 21 victims, could not be verified. Of the 84 reported cases, 19 cases, involving 58 victims, were reportedly perpetrated by government security forces and auxiliary groups, and 39 cases, involving 87 victims, were allegedly perpetrated by unidentified armed men. Investigations were reportedly initiated in 32 documented cases, resulting in 12 arrests, highlighting concerns over the lack of efficiency of law enforcement and prosecutorial services in some areas.
12. The mission continued to document incidents of sexual violence and grave violations against children. On 19 December, UNAMID was informed of the alleged gang rape of a female internally displaced person by three Sudan Police personnel while she was in detention at a police cell in Nyala, South Darfur. The response of law enforcement institutions remains deficient, and psychosocial support for survivors was inadequate. The Women’s Protection Network reported that two girls aged 12 and 13, and a 22-year-old woman were allegedly gang raped on 16 December 2017 by eight armed men at Kargo, 10 km east of Nertiti. The incident was reported to Sudan Police and one suspect was apprehended and is awaiting prosecution. On 25 December, four armed men in civilian clothes attempted to rape three internally displaced women in Balda area, approximately 7 km north-east of Hamidiya camp for internally displaced persons in Zalingei. On 26 December, four women were severely beaten by three armed militiamen at Dankoj, 40 km north-east of Zalingei.
13. The reporting period witnessed an overall decline in criminal activities. However, with the ongoing harvest season, incidents of crop destruction and related violence persisted in some areas. Internally displaced persons were targeted in 68 criminal incidents, which led to five fatalities. Other civilians were affected by 92 crime-related incidents resulting in 17 fatalities, including cases of murder (14), armed robbery (9), attempted robbery (2), assault/harassment (26), burglary/break-in (4), looting (2), abduction (3), shooting (15), attack/ambush (1), arson (1), livestock theft (13) and others (2). In the previous reporting period, internally displaced persons and other civilians were affected by 123 and 208 criminal incidents, respectively, resulting in the deaths of 8 internally displaced persons and 42 other civilians.
14. Tensions increased in two camps for internally displaced persons in Central Darfur, notably Hasahisa and the Hamidiya camps, near Zalingei. Following a quarrel between members of the Fur internally displaced persons and of the Beni Halba host community in December 2017, the internally displaced persons prevented all Beni Halba from entering the Hasahisa market. On 20 January the two groups engaged in a violent confrontation, which resulted in four internally displaced persons and one Beni Halba being killed and 38 persons being injured. In a separate incident, on 22 January, two internally displaced persons from Hamidiya camp were assaulted by a group of men while conducting livelihood activities outside the camp, and on 31 January there were clashes between internally displaced persons from Hamidiya camp and the Beni Halba, who prevented them from collecting wood in Boronka area (10 km from the camp). Sudan Police created a buffer zone in Hasahisa camp, arrested three suspects, and are working with the community leaders towards a reconciliation initiative.
15. Criminal elements associated with the Sudan Liberation Army/Peace and Development (SLA/PD) continued to harass the internally displaced persons community in Sortony, while provoking clashes with the nomadic tribes in the area. Following the theft, on 6 January, of 14 cattle by SLA/PD from the nomads in the area tensions rose between the nomads and internally displaced persons in Sortony gathering site, where SLA/PD took shelter. Government security personnel intervened on 23 January to arrest those responsible and to collect weapons in the camp, which proceeded without incident. On 30 January, government representatives of Kass locality, South Darfur, informed the inhabitants of Singita village (19 km south of the UNAMID team site) of the Government’s decision to divide farming land between villagers and new settlers, nomads living around the village. The villagers were reportedly requested to vacate their fields or to face forceful vacation by 6 February. The villagers resolved not to move out and nominated a committee to discuss the issue with the Commissioner of Kass locality