UN Security Council halts political mission in Sudan amid escalating conflict

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The UN Security Council halted its political mission in Sudan on Friday, at the request of Sudanese authorities, after more than seven months of war between General Mohamed Dagalo and General Abdel-Fattah Burhan.

Al-Harith Idriss al-Harith, the Sudanese Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, said in a November 16 letter that he had received instructions from his Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq “to terminate the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (Unitams) with immediate effect.”

UN Security Council

In response to that correspondence from Khartoum, the Security Council passed a resolution ending its mandate effective on Sunday.

Monday marked the start of a three-month transition phase that would permit Unitams staff to leave and work to be transferred to other UN agencies “where appropriate and to the extent feasible.” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed

According to Dujarric, the UN mission in Sudan employs 245 people, including 88 in Port Sudan.

Russia abstained from voting on the resolution calling for Unitams to leave Sudan, while 14 of the 15 council members approved it.

James Kariuki, Britain’s deputy UN envoy, stated: “Let me clarify. The United Kingdom would not have chosen to close Unitams at this moment.”

US envoy Robert Wood continued, “We are extremely concerned that a diminished international presence in Sudan will only serve to embolden the perpetrators of atrocities with dire consequences for civilians.”

According to Louis Charbonneau, director of Human Rights Watch UN, “this Security Council decision is the culmination of its catastrophic abdication of responsibility to the civilians of Sudan at a moment when the risk of atrocities and large-scale human rights abuses is greater than ever.”

Unitams was established in 2020 to aid in the democratic transition of Sudan after the military and large-scale protests forced the ousting of Omar al-Bashir the year before.

However, the challenging path to civilian government abruptly ended in October 2021, when army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan took over full power in a coup.

Before a deal to resume the democratic transition could be signed on April 15, 2023, fighting broke out between General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Burhan’s Sudanese army.

Since the UN can only function with the host country’s approval, the Security Council was essentially forced to withdraw in November when the Khartoum government demanded that the mission be immediately terminated, calling it “disappointing.”

Unitam’s forced departure represents a fresh blow to the UN, which is already dealing with some hostility regarding the ineffectiveness of its political and security missions, particularly in Africa.

Note that the Security Council terminated its peacekeeping mission in Mali (Minusma) in June due to pressure from the ruling junta and that the blue helmets should be completely removed by the end of the year.

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