Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations during the Security Council Meeting on the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), 25 February 2019
At the outset let me thank you for convening this meeting today. Allow me to also express our appreciation to Ms. Bintou Keita, ASG for Africa, for her comprehensive briefing on her recent visit to Darfur and developments regarding the situation in Sudan. We also commend the work being done by UNAMID.
Ms. Bintou‘s briefing highlights the intricacies and challenges of making peace. Accordingly, the journey of peacemaking in Darfur has not been an easy one, as we have all witnessed in the past fourteen years.
However, the tireless efforts of the international community and consistent support over the years, have resulted in the considerable improvement of the security situation in Darfur. The improvement of the security situation has even propelled the drawdown of UNAMID.
In this regard, South Africa welcomes the continued improvement in the security situation in Darfur during the reporting period, as well as the absence of inter-communal violence as reported. We have also noted that the number of crime-related incidents and human rights violations have declined during this period.
However, it is clear that we are not where we should be, there are still areas of concern particularly in Jebel Marra. The continued clashes between armed groups and the government of Sudan, highlight that more efforts are required in this region. This insecurity hampers the lives of many vulnerable civilians.
In this regard, we call upon armed groups particularly the Sudan Liberation Army led by Abdul Wahid to resolve their disputes through political dialogue avenues that have already been established.
Furthermore, it is imperative that all parties continue to implement the outstanding provisions of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. It remains essential for all parties to continue their commitment to the negotiations process under the auspices of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel.
Equally, as the international community we should continue to support this process to ensure that we don’t reverse the gains that we have achieved thus far.
South Africa remains concerned at the violations of human rights reported in the Secretary-General’s report. Women and children continue to be the most affected by sexual violence which has also increasingly become a weapon of war and conflict affecting the long-term prospects for peaceful and prosperous communities. We would like to urge the Government of Sudan to combat sexual violence in conflict and to bring all perpetrators to justice.
South Africa has noted the continued reduction of the military strength of UNAMID as well as the hand-over to UNAMID’s formed police units and the re-deployment of the police units. It is important that UNAMID provides adequate rule of law and livelihood services in terms of its mandate, to address security concerns of the local communities and Internally Displaced Persons.
We further wish to stress the importance of humanitarian support and access to affected areas in Darfur. It is crucial that there is an eventual transition from humanitarian support to reconstruction and development in the Darfur area as UNAMID eventually exits Sudan.
It is imperative for UNAMID to continue to provide technical and logistical assistance to the Sudan DDR Commission to assist with disarmament and demobilisation or armed combatants.
In order to facilitate the implementation of the transition, including through the relocation of the Office of the Joint Special Representative to Khartoum, it is vital to involve the relevant local authorities and officials in Sudan in the process. This is to ensure an open dialogue and transparent processes that would lead to the engagement of the Sudanese government.
As the UNAMID mission transitions out of Darfur, we strongly support the SG’s observation, recommending the close partnership and continued engagement of the Government of Sudan, the African Union and the UN system. This partnership has been a key ingredient in the notable achievement in Darfur. This partnership will also be equally important in maintaining future progress and stability.
Similarly, for any peace to be sustained, we need to harness our efforts in addressing economic development in the Sudan. Economic development will alleviate potential conflict triggers in the future.
We should also guard against spoilers utilizing the current socio-economic challenges in Sudan, to further their own narrow interests.
Our efforts in making peace in Sudan have and continue to show signs of progress. We should remain steadfast and tireless in this trajectory.
Making peace in Darfur will continue to positively affect the region as well as contribute to the African Union’s aspirations of silencing the guns by 2020.
Lastly, Mr. President, we would like to express our appreciation to those working at the coalface in Darfur for their continued commitment to building peace.
I thank you
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION