Special report of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the strategic review of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (S/2018/530) [EN/AR]

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I. Introduction

  1. The Peace and Security Council of the African Union, in its communiqué of 12 June 2017 (PSC/PR/COMM.(DCXCI)), and the Security Council, in its resolution 2363 (2017), authorized a two-phase reconfiguration of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). In accordance with the request to conduct a review contained in the statement by the President of the Security Council of 31 January 2018 (S/PRST/2018/4), a joint African Union-United Nations review team visited Khartoum and Darfur from 2 to 13 April 2018. The team was co-led by the African Union Commission and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and comprised representatives of the African Union Commission and the United Nations Secretariat, including the Peacebuilding Support Office. The team also included staff from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Darfur, representing, respectively, the United Nations country team and the humanitarian country team. The review team held consultations with UNAMID, officials of the Government of the Sudan and the United Nations country team, visited all five states of Darfur and a number of team sites, and met with state and local authorities, the native administration and representatives of the communities of internally displaced persons.

  2. The present report covers the period from 1 July 2017 to 15 May 2018, and provides an analysis of the conflict, depicting the current security situation and conflict drivers in Darfur, the political and humanitarian situation and the development needs critical to avoiding a relapse into conflict. It assesses the situation in line with the requirements of the statement of the President of the Security Council (S/PRST/2018/4) and presents a whole-of-system approach for Darfur, which includes a new mission concept that contains adjusted priorities for UNAMID and a transition concept for withdrawal over a two-year time frame, during which the mission will work in collaboration with the United Nations country team in order to sustain peace in Darfur.

II. Conflict analysis

  1. The security situation in Darfur has remained relatively stable, following military gains by the Government of the Sudan against the rebel movements since 2016 and a decrease in large-scale intercommunal clashes as of mid-2015, leading to the consolidation of State authority across Darfur, except for small pockets in the Jebel Marra area. Overall, the situation in Darfur has evolved significantly from the height of the conflict in the late 2000s, when the situation was marked by an armed conflict between Government forces and non-State actors. Today, conditions are better described as those of lawlessness and criminality, aggravated by a protracted humanitarian crisis, continued human rights violations and the lack of development. On the political front, the Darfur peace process remains incomplete, and implementation of the outstanding provisions of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur requires new impetus. There have been, however, encouraging developments regarding the constitutional review based on the outcome of the national dialogue.

Security analysis

Fighting between the Government of the Sudan and armed groups

  1. No major armed confrontations have taken place between the Government of the Sudan and Darfur rebel groups since 1 July 2017, except for small-scale clashes in eastern Jebel Marra from March to May 2018. The Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA/MM), the Sudan Liberation Army/Transitional Council (SLA/TC) (a splinter faction of the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW)) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have been unable to maintain a sustained presence in Darfur or elsewhere in the Sudan, despite being involved in minor clashes described in the assessment of phase one of the reconfiguration of UNAMID (S/2018/12). In its letter dated 28 December 2017 (S/2017/1125), the Panel of Experts on the Sudan confirmed the involvement of those groups in mercenary and other illegal activities in neighbouring Libya and South Sudan. Recent reports indicate that SLA/MM is currently not capable of launching offensive operations against Government forces in Darfur, and that JEM is under significant pressure to leave South Sudan, as it is militarily weakened and fragmented.

  2. The limited area and scale of the clashes observed in eastern Jebel Marra since early March 2018 testify to the fact that, while the small groups associated with SLA/AW continue to have some operational capabilities, they are largely contained.1 The letter from the Panel of Experts on the Sudan and other reports indicate the involvement of SLA/AW in extortion against internally displaced persons and acts of criminality contributing to intercommunal clashes. The recent fighting, according to a UNAMID fact-finding mission, may have been associated with the burning of a number of villages and the displacement of several thousand people in the area of Rockero in April 2018.

  3. Although the Government and the armed groups have not agreed on a permanent ceasefire, they continue to extend temporary cessations of hostilities. On 19 March, the President of the Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, extended the Government’s unilateral ceasefire until 30 June 2018, while SLA/MM, SLA/TC and JEM have extended theirs until 6 August 2018.