The Sudanese government is restricting and threatening international peacekeepers’ activities in Darfur in violation of an agreement signed by both parties, said a United Nations report released Monday.
The 20-page document from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reported that the hybrid A.U.-U.N. peacekeeping operation in Darfur, or UNAMID, has been barred from investigating areas of fighting and patrolling at night in internally displaced, or IDP, camps. The U.N. documented several instances in which UNAMID personnel were threatened, shot at, or denied access by government officials. Since January 2009, there were at least 42 incidents in which a UNAMID patrol was denied passage by a government official.
“The repeated incidents of Government officials preventing access to UNAMID patrols are a direct violation of the Status of Forces Agreement with the Government of the Sudan and a serious impediment to the Mission’s capacity to implement its mandate,” says Ban.
According to the report, the security situation continues to decline, with attacks on UNAMID personnel growing bolder, taking place even in the residential neighborhoods of U.N. staff members. Clashes between the Sudanese government and rebel groups, and between Chadian and Sudanese forces, continue.
Aside from security issues, the U.N. report also gave a bleak assessment of ongoing efforts toward a Darfur peace settlement and the feasibility of holding elections in Darfur in April as planned. Ban noted in particular, “the failure of the parties to the conflict to commit to a comprehensive negotiated settlement to the crisis.” The involvement of civil society in negotiations, though, was encouraged, especially as armed movements remain unready to engage.
Elections would be facilitated by the conclusion of a political settlement, the report said, noting the many political and security-related issues in Darfur that impede free and fair elections.
The reach of humanitarian efforts has also decreased, the report said. Since the expulsion of international NGOs in March this year, international presence in remote areas has been reduced by 50 percent. Relief assistance for malnutrition is “stretched beyond capacity.”
All around a gloomy outlook. Obama administration, take note.
Photo: UNAMID (AP)