Sudan is the third African country to call for closure of a United Nations (UN) mission following the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mali.
The request for “immediate termination” of the UN mission, according to the world body, to the UN Security Council (UNSC) came from the Sudanese capital Khartoum the same day Martha Pobee, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, said the war between rival militaries in Sudan has “further intensified”.
UN news and media reports: “Sudan’s military government wrote in a letter addressed to the UN chief and circulated to the [Security] Council – which provides each UN peacekeeping or political country mission with its mandate – that while calling for the withdrawal, it was committed to constructive engagement with the UN”.
The report does not mention the mission by name and it cannot be UNMIS (UN Mission in the Sudan) which ceased operations mid-July 2011 when South Sudan became a country in its own right. That leaves UNITAMS (UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan), the Sudan mission operational since the South Sudan/Sudan split, as the one Khartoum wants closed. At the time of the UNMIS closure, the world body operationalised UNMISS, its then new mission in the new country, to support government, monitor and investigate human rights violations, support humanitarian assistance and promote implementation of a peace agreement.
Pobee told SC members “some armed groups” in the Darfur region have allied to the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) as the opposition RSF (Rapid Support Forces) “seem poised” to advance on El Fasher in north Darfur.
Outside Darfur, clashes continue in Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri with the main fighting around SAF strongholds. Hostilities are spreading into new areas, including Gezira, White Nile and West Kordofan states according to her.
“Seasoned” UN negotiator Ian Martin will lead a strategic review of UNITAMS to provide the UNSC with options on how to adapt its mandate to fit the “wartime conditions”.
A number of calls have come for closure of the DRC mission – MONUSCO – even as an East African Community (EAC) regional force is deployed in the eastern part of the strife-torn country. Additionally, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is considering deployment of a multi-national force to DRC from the regional bloc’s 16 member states.
Further north and west, withdrawal of MINUSMA troops ahead of the mission’s planned year-end closure is well underway notwithstanding convoys carrying men and materiel coming under fire from rebel groups as they exit camps and forward operating bases (FOBs).