The UN - African Union Mission in Darfur
In July 2007, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1769, establishing the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to address the humanitarian crisis in the western region of Sudan. This joint peacekeeping mission replaced a previous mission led solely by the African Union. UNAMID's mandate has been extended through July 2013.
The Mission's mandate includes:
• Supporting the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA);
• Securing access for humanitarian assistance throughout Darfur;
• Creating an inclusive political process;
• Protecting civilians;
• Promoting human rights and rule of law;
• Monitoring and reporting on the situation along the borders with Chad and the Central African Republic;
• Implementing the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration program (DDR)
With nearly 21,000 uniformed personnel in the field, as well as a large contingent of civilian personnel, UNAMID is currently the largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world.
In 2003, the Sudanese government in Khartoum, backed by local militias known as the Janjaweed, launched a violent campaign against Darfur’s rebel groups, who had accused the government of oppression and neglect.
The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was developed in 2004 to end violence and protect civilians, but fighting continued. In May 2006, the government of Sudan began negotiating the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). However, the accord failed to stop the violence, because it only received support from one of the region’s three main rebel groups.
In July 2007, the Sudanese government agreed to allow a hybrid United Nations-African Union mission into Darfur to replace the previous AU-led mission. UNAMID is supporting the overall peace process to promote stability and security in Darfur and prevent further escalation of the conflict. Read more || Hide text
In March 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In July 2010, the ICC re-examined its decision and indicted Bashir on three counts of genocide. At Bashir’s direction, the genocide has left an estimated 300,000 people dead and 2 million displaced.
Progress towards stability came with the 2011 Doha Document, a peace deal signed by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM). Since then, signatories to the agreement have been working to implement its provisions, which include power and wealth-sharing, reconstruction and development, permanent ceasefire, and the return of internally displaced persons and refugees.
On February 10, the Government of Sudan signed a ceasefire agreement with the JEM Interim Military Council, a breakaway faction of the larger Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a rebel group operating in Darfur. The agreement creates a framework for further negotiations on the Doha Document. It also establishes a Ceasefire Commission, which will be headed by UNAMID’s Force Commander, and is tasked with overseeing implementation of the agreement. The main body of the JEM has yet to sign a peace deal with the government.
Despite progress made on the peace process, security remains a concern. Two Attacks on UNAMID personnel in October 2012 resulted in five deaths, while fighting between government and rebel forces, as well as inter-ethnic clashes in North Darfur displaced thousands and caused over 100 deaths.
How This Affects American Interests
- Facilitates Humanitarian Assistance. The U.S. and UN both support efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of the people of Darfur. According to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, “…the United States has been for many years and remains deeply focused on the horrible humanitarian situation that persists in Darfur.” As a result, the U.S. backs UN-led efforts to ensure water access for Darfur’s most vulnerable populations, by providing water, building wells, and educating Darfuris on conservation and usage. Yellow fever broke out recently in Darfur, with 166 deaths reported between September and early December. UNAMID provided logistical and security support to a World Health Organization-led immunization campaign, which mobilized millions of vaccines.
- Supports Diplomacy. Since the signing of the Doha Document, the U.S. and UN have been working to help support its implementation. The Government, in accordance with the agreement, appointed 12 members to the newly created Darfur Regional Authority, a body intended to stimulate development and facilitate peace in Darfur. In October 2012, the Darfur Joint Assessment Mission, which was created by the Regional Authority, carried out state-level workshops in Darfur, focusing on economic recovery and development, and drawing 1,423 stakeholders from government and civil society. UNAMID’s facilitation and logistical support was critical to the completion of the workshops, and insights gained will be presented during a donor conference in Doha scheduled for early 2013. Prospects for the peace process improved in February, as the government reached a ceasefire deal with a breakaway faction of the JEM.
- Provides security in camps. UNAMID police have stepped up patrols to ensure the safety of civilians living in internally-displaced person (IDP) camps, conducting more than 7,000 such operations between October and December of 2012. Among other duties, these patrols are responsible for escorting women while they gather water and firewood, in an effort to prevent instances of sexual abuse and exploitation. Refugees have gradually begun to return to the region recently, with more than 100,000 people venturing back to their homes in Darfur since the beginning of 2012. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of Darfuris remain displaced, and continue to require the protection of UNAMID.
- Trains Police. While the security situation in Darfur has improved in recent years, UNAMID is continuing its efforts to strengthen the Darfur Police Force, to ensure long-term stability in the troubled region. In November 2012, UNAMID conducted criminal investigation training for 40 police investigators. The mission also supports prison authorities by conducting educational programs in computer skills, field commander training and first aid. As part of its capacity-building work, UNAMID completed quick-impact projects for local and State authorities, including a courthouse in northern Darfur, and a dormitory and delivery room at the Nyala Central Prison in southern Darfur.
- Addressing Human Rights Abuses. The human rights abuses that have occurred and continue to occur in Darfur must be addressed and the perpetrators held accountable. Between October and December 2012, 94 human rights violations were reported, affecting 204 victims. Through training sessions on human rights law and transitional justice, UNAMID provides capacity-building support to help the Sudanese Government address these abuses. Additionally, the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan is collaborating with UNAMID to create a program to help the Sudanese Government address human rights abuses throughout Sudan, including in Darfur.
- Implements Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) Programs. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration efforts have experienced widespread success in Darfur and across Sudan. Between 2009 and February 2012, the Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, with the support of the UN, registered 1,041 former child soldiers in Darfur and encouraged the voluntary disarmament of armed groups throughout the region. In November 2012, the SLA-Historical Leadership submitted a list of 120 former soldiers to the commission. Following a meeting with UNAMID, the SLA said it would consider implementing an action plan to end the use of child soldiers. The JEM established a committee to implement a similar action plan it signed in September 2012. UNAMID provides reintegration services for those who agree to lay down their arms, including HIV/AIDS counseling, material support, educational opportunities and occupational training.
- Supports Women’s Rights. Efforts to improve the status of women in Darfur and promote their participation in the political process are a key goal of both the U.S. and UNAMID. UNAMID supports enhanced protection of women and girls in Darfur, and places a particularly strong emphasis on combating cases of sexual and gender-based violence. The mission conducts workshops focusing on women’s participation in the peace process and women’s education on sexual and gender-based violence. In December 2012, the mission helped organize a dialogue on gender-based violence in Zam-Zam IDP camp. For the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (November 25-December 10, 2012), UNAMID helped organize a number of events, including sensitization campaigns, workshops and other activities aimed at eliminating sexual violence. The mission supports the work of other UN agencies, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which aids four women’s centers located in IDP camps in northern Darfur. The centers, which benefit an estimated 1,000 IDP women, offer skills training and income-generating activities, and also serve as neutral meeting places where women can discuss sexual and gender-based violence, health awareness, and general education issues. UNAMID also supports the official Darfur Women’s Legislative Caucus, which teaches female members of Darfur’s state legislative councils strategic and development concepts for monitoring equality and peace within the government.
- Infrastructure and Resource Inadequacies. Darfur’s geography renders distribution of humanitarian assistance difficult. With a territory the size of Texas, Darfur has very few transportation routes and scarce water supplies. During the rainy season, roads and railways become nearly impassable, requiring UNAMID to use aerial transportation to deliver aid. During the 2012 rainy season, torrential downpours exacted a heavy toll throughout Darfur, destroying or damaging the homes of over 26,000 people. The United States supported UNAMID flood relief efforts with heavy equipment and air assistance.
- Government Interference. The Sudanese Government allowed UNAMID into Sudan in 2008, but since then has restricted the mission’s access to certain areas of the region. Between October and December 2012, UNAMID’s over land movements were impeded 38 times, while 82 flight requests were denied. Khartoum has also limited entry into the country as a whole by implementing stringent visa requirements for UN staff and other humanitarian workers. These types of restrictions further complicate UNAMID’s task of delivering humanitarian aid to the ravaged region. UNAMID and the UN continue to negotiate issues of access with the government, but entry into certain locations is still being denied.
- Insufficient Aid and Funds. While UNAMID and international humanitarian organizations have been working to meet the needs of the people of Darfur, without access to monitor aid projects, many nations are hesitant to donate money. Food insecurity plagues the region, due to poor harvests, little rainfall and increases in food prices.
- South Sudanese Citizenship Concerns. There are concerns that a possible outbreak of violence due to the movement of people from Sudan to South Sudan could negatively impact security in Darfur. Both countries have failed to agree on a concrete citizenship plan for individuals of South Sudanese origin currently living in Sudan. The UNHCR estimates that hundreds of thousands of these South Sudanese are threatened with becoming a stateless group unless the two nations reach an arrangement regarding their status.
- Ongoing Conflict. In the last few months, fighting in Darfur has intensified. From November to December 2012, several clashes occurred between government forces and armed movements. On November 9, Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) – Minni Minawi elements attacked a Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) convoy in northern Darfur, prompting SAF aircraft to drop several bombs in the area in the days following the attack. A UNAMID patrol to the area discovered 18 corpses, but was unable to confirm reports of further fighting and casualties due to restrictions on movement imposed by the government. SAF aircraft also bombed locations in eastern Darfur on November 20 and 21, attempting to limit the movement of rebels between South Sudan and Darfur. Further attacks and government bombings occurred in northern Darfur on December 12, 17 and 18, though the government blocked UNAMID’s attempts to assess the humanitarian impact of the fighting. Starting on December 24, fighting broke out between SLA and government forces in central Darfur, displacing over 30,000 people in Golo and Guldo. In January, a dispute between two tribal groups over access to gold mines in North Darfur left 100 people dead and displaced at least 100,000.
- Safety of Humanitarian Workers. Rebel groups have increasingly directed attacks at humanitarian workers and peacekeepers. In October 2012, five peacekeepers were killed by unidentified armed assailants in two separate attacks. The first attack occurred after a patrol in western Darfur, leaving four dead and eight injured. The second attack took place during a fact-finding mission in northern Darfur, resulting in one death and three injuries. Since UNAMID first deployed in 2008, 128 uniformed personnel have been killed as a result of insurgent attacks. Humanitarian workers have also been victims of abduction and car-jacking.
- Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). UXO remain a serious problem in Darfur, with many areas of the remote region littered with mines and other explosives due to the protracted conflict between rebels, government forces and allied militiamen. UXO and ERW obstruct delivery of aid, hinder the return of refugees, and prevent farmers from cultivating their land. Between October and December 2012, UNAMID assessed 131 km2 of land and 1,280 km of roadways as ordnance-free, and trained 18,000 people in unexploded ordnance risk-awareness. However, continued insecurity in the region interferes with efforts to fully address this issue.
- Slow implementation of the Doha Document. A number of measures in the Doha Document have not been met on schedule, including those related to the ceasefire and security arrangements. Disagreements between the government and the LJM, coupled with a lack of buy-in by non-signatory movements, are impeding the implementation of the agreement. Additionally, the Government of the Sudan has not transferred funds to the Darfur Reconstruction and Development Fund, stalling recovery efforts in the war-torn region. Fighting between government forces and rebel factions, as well as amongst different tribal groups, also stand as obstacles to peace and stability in Darfur.
*Updated February 2013