With 14 votes in favour, United Nations security council voted Friday (Dec. 01) to terminate the mandate of the UN transition mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).
The draft resolution requests the mission to "immediately start", on 4 December, the cessation of its operations and the process of transfer of its tasks, where appropriate and to the extent feasible, to UN agencies, funds, and programmes, with the objective of completing this process by 29 February 2024.
It also calls on the mission to establish financial arrangements, as appropriate, with the UN Country Team to enable the UN to oversee the residual activities of programmatic cooperation previously initiated by UNITAMS.
Relations between UNITAMS and Sudan has been strained since April. The head of the UNITAMS was declared persona non grata.
Except for Russia which abstained, other countriers in the Council voted in favour of the resolution with many representatives expressing dismay.
“The United Kingdom would not have chosen to close UNITAMS at this moment," ambassador James Kariuki told the council. "We commend the work done by the mission before and since the outbreak of the conflict. But given the unequivocal demand of the Sudanese authorities for the immediate termination of UNITAMS, we have worked tirelessly as penholder to agree a compromise to allow an orderly transition and liquidation. We reiterate that the Sudanese authorities remain responsible for the safety and security of UNITAMS staff and assets during this transition.”
While the United States voted in favor of this resolution, U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood said, “we are gravely concerned that a reduced international presence in the Sudan will only serve to embolden the perpetrators of atrocities.”
The vote comes against the backdrop of the continuing war that has killed over 6,000 people, driven some 6 million from their homes, enabled the perpetration of sexual and gender-based violence, precipitated a severe humanitarian crisis and allegedly ethnic cleasing.
Ghana's representative who spoke for African countries in the council (A3) alerted about the situation in Sudan nearly 8 months after the war broke out.
“The situation in the Darfur and other parts of the Sudan are disturbing," Harold Adlai Agyeman, Permanent Representative of Ghana to The United Nations saiod.
"And we must all respond to the cause of the suffering Sudanese people, for a cessation of the hostilities, the protection of civilians and the provision of humanitarian assistance to the numerous displaced persons among others. As members of the A3 we are rightfully more concerned by the situation and will continue to engage constructively within the council and our (inaudible) with the processes required to abate the fighting.”
A paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces, which was born out of the notorious Janjaweed militias, has been at war against the Sudanese military since mid-April, when months of tension exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas.
United Nations officials say that the U.N. will keep trying to help Sudanese people with the continuing presence of various humanitarian agencies.
UNITAMS was established in 2020 to support Sudan during its political transition to democratic rule.