- 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 February to 15 April 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 the UNAMID (S/2017/437).
II. Conflict analysis
- The security situation remains generally stable with the dry season coming to an end. Intermittent and low-scale skirmishes have taken place in the Jebel Marra area between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW). Government forces have also clashed with militias. Although intercommunal violence has decreased significantly, disputes over land ownership continue. The stalemate in the Darfur peace process persists while international pressure on the armed movements increases. The implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur remains constrained.
Fighting between government forces and armed groups
While 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, the Sudanese military progressively conducted small-scale operations in areas previously controlled by SLA-AW in the Jebel Marra area. The level of reported casualties and the low intensity of clashes indicate that there were no large-scale confrontations. On 10 March, SLA-AW elements attacked a Sudanese military camp in Jawa, approximately 7 km south-west of Deribat, and the following day ambushed a military convoy near Bumuye, about 8 km north-east of Deribat. The two clashes reportedly left five soldiers and three SLA-AW fighters dead and several civilians injured. In response, the Sudanese military deployed between 17 and 19 March in a search operation in the Layba, Feina and Funguli areas in East Jebel Marra, where they were attacked by SLA-AW on 21 and 22 March. Reports on the number of casualties conflict but the Sudanese military repelled the attacks and captured one SLA-AW commander. Three civilians were killed. On 26 March, intermittent exchanges of fire between the Sudanese military, supported by the Border Guards, and SLA-AW reportedly continued in Gubbo, Gur Lambung and Gulobei, south-east of Jebel Marra. As a result, some displaced persons moved to Kidingir. On 28 March, clashes also took place in Sabun and Khormaley, east of Jebel Marra. The number of casualties is unknown and an unspecified number of local residents fled to the mountains seeking safety. Clashes also took place in Katur, East Jebel Marra, on 1 April, resulting in one person killed, one injured and 73 houses burned down. There are also reports of militias carrying out attacks on 4 April in the Feina area, where some 16 villages were destroyed and civilians killed. The arrival of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on the same day put a stop to the attacks.
Following an incident on 12 March, in which SLA-AW rustled camels from Nawaiba nomads, the latter exchanged fire with the armed group and the following day burned down the village of Durgo, from where the population reportedly fled to Boori, Dar al-Salam and Golo. Three civilians were reportedly killed in those incidents and two Nawaiba tribesmen were also reportedly killed by SLA-AW cadres in the village on 17 March.
Government forces strengthened their control over other areas in Darfur. On 1 March, RSF captured the commander of Sudan Liberation Army-Historical Leadership (SLA-Historical Leadership), Suleiman Marjane, along with two other fighters in a vehicle with four assault rifles, near the Jebel Isa area in North Darfur.
In the same area, on 20 March, RSF personnel captured suspected JEM-Gibril elements coming from Libya. Furthermore, on 19 March, the President of the Sudan,
Omar Hassan al-Bashir, extended the unilateral ceasefire announced by the Government in all areas of operations until 30 June 2018.
- Tensions persist in the area around Kabkabiyah, North Darfur, following the stand-off between RSF and Northern Rizeigat militiamen, who joined forces with Musa Hilal in November 2017. On 27 February, RSF elements clashed with militiamen in Misteriya, 30 km south-west of the UNAMID team site in Kabkabiyah.
One woman was killed and ten civilians were injured in the shooting incident as they attempted to protect a local leader. RSF informed UNAMID that the incident took place while it was implementing a weapons collection campaign.