Now is not the time to walk away: UNSC needs to renew and strengthen UNAMID
(23 June 2016) With the UNAMID mandate renewal under discussion at the UN Security Council, a new report released today by the International Refugee Rights Initiative provides an analysis of the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) as seen by some of the civilians the force is mandated to protect.
The report, “'No one on the earth cares if we survive except God and sometimes UNAMID': The challenges of peacekeeping in Darfur”, is the second of a three-part study on civilian perspectives on peacekeeping forces in Africa. The findings make it clear that when the UN security Council considers the upcoming renewal of the peacekeeping mandate of UNAMID in late June, not only is this not the time for the international community to walk away, it is, in fact, time for UNAMID to step up.
Since the conflict began in Darfur in 2003, at least 300,000 people have been killed and around three million driven from their homes. Contrary to claims by the government of Sudan that peace has been achieved in Darfur, violence continues and people continue to be displaced. In the first three months of 2016 alone, more than 100,000 people were displaced as a result of the conflict.
Despite being the largest peacekeeping operation in the world, the majority of those interviewed felt that UNAMID was “very weak in keeping both peace and security” or, as another interview put it, “[UNAMID] are about 50% effective in achieving their objectives…” And yet despite the many concerns articulated in the report, the reality on the ground is that UNAMID remains, for many, their best hope for protection.
Yet while arguably a little protection might be better than no protection at all, it is clear that UNAMID needs to do far more. It needs to be more effective and at a minimum, create the conditions identified in its own benchmarks. Darfuris want to see a more proactive stance from the mission and have called UNAMID to engage in disarmament. The report recommends that the mission work harder to ensure it is implementing its existing protection mandate as well as making sure it is reporting more publicly about the situation on the ground. In addition, the report calls on the UN Security Council to ensure not just that the mandate is renewed, but also that the mission has the logistical and political support that it needs to be effective.
Lucy Hovil, IRRI’s Senior Researcher said: “The fact that after eight years on the ground, the basic needs of the people, and the primary objective of the mandate, have not been met is evidence of the failure not only of UNAMID, but of the international community as a whole. Yet despite this failure, the people of Darfur continue to look to the UN and other international actors for help. Collectively, we owe it to them to do far better.”
Read full report.
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Notes for Editors
- The first study, “Protecting some of the people some of the time: Civilian perspectives on peacekeeping forces in South Sudan” (December 2015).
- The research took place in April 2016 in North, Central, West and South Darfur. The researchers were unable to travel to East Darfur due to insecurity.
- A total of 57 interviews were conducted with Darfuris, primarily those who are displaced. In those communities we sought to ensure that a cross-section of gender, age category and social position was represented.