UNAMID completes drawdown, begins liquidation
29 June 2021
Sites handed over to Government to benefit health, education and social services
The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) will complete its drawdown exercise on 30 June 2021, as requested by the UN Security Council resolution 2559 (2020) which ended the Mission’s mandate.
Mr. M’Baye Babacar Cissé, Assistant Secretary-General, was tasked to oversee the drawdown period, manage personnel and asset repatriation, transfer team sites to local authorities, and engage with the Government on relevant issues.
Over the past four months, UNAMID handed over 14 team sites to the Government, who committed to using them for civilian purposes as in line with the Framework Agreement signed on 4 March 2021. Facilities are to be utilized for health care, education, and other social services, including vocational training and community centers, as identified by community members.
While it is the responsibility of the Central Government to ensure the safety and protection of the sites, the Darfur state governments remain responsible for ensuring the facilities are being used as intended.
The Government of Sudan established the Joint Task Force and the State Handover Committees to be UNAMID’s key interlocutors during the drawdown. It was through this engagement that the Mission heard the specific needs of each community and identified ways to meet those needs through the provision of assets such as water and sewage trucks, water treatment equipment, generators, and vehicles, among others. So far, UNAMID, as an integral part of its drawdown, provided Darfur communities with 193 vehicles, including 27 water and sewage trucks and 196 generators. The Mission also donated its clinic in Zalingei as well as medical facilities in Nyala and Kabkabiya for use by the local communities.
“Good coordination and cooperation with the Government of Sudan has been critical for meeting the tight timeline and benchmarks set by the Security Council for the drawdown period. Similarly, it will be important for the Government to ensure the protection of the Logistics Base and the repatriation of remaining staff to facilitate a seamless liquidation phase,” said Mr. Cissé.
Due to its size, both in terms of personnel and assets, as well as its geographical footprint, UNAMID faced challenges during the drawdown period, but was able to undertake it without major incidents.
During UNAMID’s 13-year mandate, more than 100,000 military and police peacekeepers were contributed by dozens of countries from around the world. At its peak deployment in 2011, it had nearly 23,000 troops and police.
At the beginning of the drawdown period in January 2021, 7,000 military, police, and civilian personnel remained to be separated and repatriated, with over 6,000 now repatriated.
UNAMID, one of the largest peacekeeping operations in the history of the United Nations, created a security environment in Darfur and will be departing with a history of achievements supporting the protection of civilians, particularly the internally displaced persons, community stabilization and rule of law support, the provision of humanitarian aid as well as supporting the implementation of the peace process. The Mission also worked to empower women; addressed sexual and gender-based violence; protected and promoted human rights; and helped with the fight against COVID-19.
As the Mission transitions into its liquidation phase, which is likely to last another year, significant tasks remain such as the transition and handover of the El Fasher camp to the authorities in Darfur, the disposal of remaining assets, the completion of the environmental clean-up and restoration, the disposal of hazardous materials including expired ammunition, and the repatriation of equipment and uniformed and civilian personnel.
As authorized by the Security Council, the Mission in its year-long liquidation phase scheduled to commence on 1 July 2021, will maintain a guard unit consisting of 363 formed police unit to protect UN personnel, facilities and assets inside the El Fasher Logistics Base. In parallel, Sudanese joint forces will continue to be deployed outside the Base, under the direction of the Government of Sudan and in close coordination with the UNAMID Liquidation Team. These forces will have the shared responsibility of securing the perimeter of the base, providing safety and security for UN personnel and ensuring that onward convoys of assets and contingent owned equipment are able to proceed without incidents.
While UNAMID completed its mandate on 31 December 2020 and the drawdown by 1 July 2021 and is now in a full-fledged liquidation phase, the United Nations is not leaving Sudan. UNAMID has coordinated regularly with the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), sharing best practices and lessons learned on its work in Darfur to consolidate and scale up the peacebuilding gains that have been made.