Thank you Madam President, Members of the Security Council,
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to update you once again on the situation in Sudan. Since I last briefed you, the overall situation has remained precarious, with many at stake – including Sudan’s political, social and economic stability. Time is running out for the Sudanese to find a political solution out of the crisis.
Since we established a “trilateral mechanism” to facilitate the Sudan-Sudan talks, myself, AU and IGAD envoys have stated that these talks will only succeed in an enabling environment. We also said that it is up to the Sudanese, especially the authorities, to create this environment. And indeed, since I last briefed you on this in March, some positive steps have been taken in this regard. From the end of March until today, the Sudanese authorities have released at least 86 detainees, including high-level officials affiliated with the work of the so-called Dismantling Committee, and violence against protesters by security forces appears to have decreased, in overall, but unfortunately violations still occur.
I welcomed the recent release of the detainees as an important step towards creating conducive conditions and restoring trust. However, around 110 people are still believed to be detained in Khartoum, Port Sudan and elsewhere. And last Saturday, another protester was killed by security forces. If the authorities are to build trust, it is essential that those responsible for the violence against protesters are held to account.
It is time for all violence to end. We urged the authorities to reach out to the public, to make them understand that they support dialogue as the only way to reach a political solution. Allow me to take advantage of this platform to call on the military leaders and the Sovereignty Council to announce that, in order to make this dialogue a reality, they will release the remaining detainees, stop arbitrary arrests and, above all, lift the state of emergency without limits .
Demands for change and demands for the restoration of the democratic transition process continue with largely peaceful protests. In addition, a growing number of Sudanese political parties and coalitions have presented initiatives to resolve the political crisis. The Khartoum state resistance committees have completed their political charter and are engaging in dialogue with the committees of other states. As Sudan continues to face new uncertainties, there is a shared sense of urgency, and many parties are looking for common ground and are increasingly open to dialogue. The need for civil-military dialogue as a way out of the crisis is also increasingly recognized and the public debate around this issue is intensifying.
In this context, the trilateral mechanism of the AU, the UN and the IGAD had initial talks with key components of the Sudanese society and the political scene throughout the month of April, the month of Ramadan. This included political parties and coalitions, representatives of resistance committees, youth, military, armed groups, Sufi leaders, women’s groups and academics. The aim was to sound out stakeholders’ views on the substance and format of the Sudanese-led, Sudanese-owned talks. Almost all components have shown their willingness to positively engage in our facilitation efforts. At the same time, some key stakeholders continue to reject face-to-face discussions with other counterparts, or prefer to participate indirectly.
Therefore, and in the aftermath of the initial release of the detainees and a reduction in violence, on May 12 we began a process of substantive substantive talks between the parties. Central issues include the mandate and composition of the main constitutional bodies, the future relationship between the military and civilian components, and the mechanism and criteria for selecting a prime minister.
Forging a common understanding around these issues will help chart the way out of the crisis and fill the institutional void after the coup. Once a sufficiently conducive environment is in place, the trilateral mechanism will bring key stakeholders together around a negotiating table. This can and must happen without further delay. But let’s be clear: there are also spoilers who do not want a transition to democracy, or refuse a solution through dialogue. The Sudanese parties should not allow such saboteurs to undermine the possibility of finding a negotiated way out of the crisis and thus allow the appointment of an agreed government with a work program for the remainder of the transition period. Let me also say that the trilateral mechanism strongly supports the inclusion of women in the political process by strongly encouraging parties to include at least 40% women in their delegations, which is in line with the constitutional document. And at the same time, we facilitated, through a Sudanese-led process, the inclusion of a delegation of women from across Sudan, who bring together expertise, legitimacy from their communities and diversity in terms of age and regional origin.
The absence of a political agreement so far and of a fully functioning government also has an impact on the security situation. Recent events in Darfur, including the destruction and displacement in the locality of Kerenik and the continued violence in Geneina between 22 and 26 April, have once again revealed the deficits in the state’s capacity to provide security and the protection of civilians. I informed the Council of these events on 27 April. Since that briefing, relative calm has been restored to the region. Government forces and several high-level delegations were deployed to deal with the violence, and a cessation of hostilities agreement was signed between the conflicting communities on April 29 between Arabs and Massalit in Geneina. The Standing Ceasefire Committee, chaired by UNITAMS, pledged to defuse tensions and launched an investigation into possible ceasefire violations in the context of these events following the filing of formal complaints by the parties. However, the risk of a new outbreak of violence remains high. Despite the tragedy of these events and the heinous crimes committed against civilians, it is encouraging to see that the armed groups and the regular forces have agreed to use the Standing Ceasefire Committee as a joint institution to resolve the conflict. .
Ultimately, protecting civilians requires addressing the root causes of conflict, including decades-long issues of marginalization, land issues, and the return of displaced people and refugees. In the meantime, however, physical protection must be ensured and must be a priority for the Sudanese government and for the regional and state governments of Darfur. UNITAMS continues to regularly advise and train members of the Sudanese police force on community policing, protection against sexual and gender-based violence and more generally the protection of civilians. In addition, the Sudanese authorities have made significant progress in establishing the Joint Security Force in Darfur, as provided for in the Juba Peace Agreement. A first group of 2,000 members of the signatory armed movements will complete their 90-day training at the end of this month and will be deployed in North, West and South Darfur. The government agreed to give them a regular salary at the same level as that of Sudanese Armed Forces soldiers upon graduation. In addition, a batch of 80 officers was selected from this batch to receive additional training and then be integrated into the regular forces. The UN, my mission, is currently providing training to non-commissioned officers in this group on human rights, international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians. Going forward, adequate logistical support is needed to operationalize armed group staging areas and make further progress in deploying joint security forces.
In addition, once a political agreement is reached, additional material support will be needed from the international community to implement other aspects of the Juba Peace Agreement, including key protocols that will be signed. attack the root causes of the conflict.
The political deadlock continues to take a heavy socio-economic toll. Humanitarian needs are increasing with a significant impact on the most vulnerable. This, coupled with global geopolitical factors, continues to drive up commodity prices in Sudan. In April, staple food prices increased by an average of 15% compared to March and remained 250% above those of last year. The combined effects of political instability, economic crisis, crop failures and global supply shocks are having a disastrous impact on inflation and food affordability. The number of Sudanese facing acute hunger is expected to double to about 18 million by September this year. OCHA has allocated $20 million in response from its Central Emergency Response Fund and donors are continuing to provide humanitarian aid. However, the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2022 was only 13% funded. In the absence of a political agreement to restore constitutional legitimacy, much international development assistance and commitments from international financial institutions have remained on hold. Some donors have also imposed restrictions on aid going through state systems, to reach public sector workers like teachers and health care providers. While the primary responsibility for changing this dynamic lies with Sudanese stakeholders themselves, I am concerned about the long-term consequences, as we witness a further erosion of Sudan’s already fragile state capacity and human capital.
Sudan also runs the risk that critical International Development Association Program 19 (IDA-19) assistance that was allocated to Sudan under the HIPC process will be reallocated to other countries by the end of the year. June if a political solution to the crisis is not reached. Additionally, some donor states have warned that international financial support to the Sudanese government, including debt relief, will not resume without a credible civilian government.
Thus, if a solution to the current impasse is not found, the consequences will be felt beyond Sudan’s borders and for a generation. This is a message that the two Envoys and I continue to transmit to the Sudanese interlocutors. Ultimately, it is up to the Sudanese to agree on a way out of the crisis.
The crisis facing Sudan is internal and can only be resolved by the Sudanese. A solution is needed. Most Sudanese actors realize that the geopolitical environment is becoming more difficult and that the gaze of the international community is diverted from Sudan. They therefore expect the trilateral mechanism to facilitate the difficult process of consensual exit from the crisis. Too many stakes, too many hopes and aspirations impacted. I urge the Sudanese to seize this opportunity. I remain grateful for the support of the international community, and in particular of the members of this Council, for our efforts.