This post aims on explaining recent updates in the Sudan crisis and analyzes various aspects of the crisis, with special emphasis on the Darfur region and the expiring mandate of UNAMID- UN’s peacekeeping mission in Darfur. It goes on to discussing my personal analysis and understanding in every section and concludes with other important crisis information, addressing certain Instagram trends, donation links and further readings for those who want to go in-depth.
Sudanese President Omar Bashir took power in 1989 amidst an ongoing conflict, a 21 year civil war between the North and South. Along with his 2005 Peace Declaration, another conflict was breaking out in Darfur for which he was charged with war crimes by the Intl. Criminal Court.
In the January 2011 referendum, about 99% of South Sudanese voters were in favor of separation. The independent state of South Sudan was declared six months later.
On 11 April 2019, President Omar Bashir stepped down. Sudan was to have a transitional government for 2 years until a new leader is elected. The civilians have protested against military rule for various crimes and atrocities and had a massive sit-in at Khartoum demanding civilian rule.
On 3rd June 2019, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) attacked the sit-in and continued mass murder of peaceful protesters leading to over 100 deaths, displacements and other war crimes.
Sudanese Transitional Military Council has shut down internet access, the nation is almost completely cut off from internet. “If the Transitional Military Council genuinely intends to restore peace and maintain good will with civilian opposition leaders, it should reverse this dangerous shutdown, which puts even more lives at risk, These shutdowns blatantly repress the rights of the people the military council claims it wants to have a dialogue with.” said Priyanka Motaparthy, acting emergencies director at Human Rights Watch.
Mohammed, a 29-year-old demonstrator in Khartoum, told Human Rights Watch: “We…struggle with verifying information. This whole situation now is creating isolated locations where we don’t really know what is happening and what kind of abuses are taking place there.”
Sudanese Delegate’s Statements in UNSC Meeting on Darfur 25/2/2019
It was seen that the situation and stability over past years has been improving in the Darfur area since the 2015 agreement between the Govt., African Union and the United Nations regarding UNAMIDs withdrawal.
He pointed out how Sudan has been subjected to decades of UN imposed sanctions and linked it with negative impacts on basic needs of the people in Sudan. He also expressed the need for freedom from debt especially because of being a nation that has 2 million refugees and is riddled with conflict. Limiting the conflicts details to statements of the International Criminal Court alone is misleading. The roots of the conflict also lie in under-development, environmental degradation and desertification.
Overview on the commonly misunderstood ‘UN Withdrawal’
The most alarming feature about the reduced UNAMID involvement in Sudan is that it’s assets will be transferred to the very forces that are now reported for carrying out acts of violence, mass murder, suppression of free speech and assembly, sexual violence and forced disappearances. As of Decree 102 of the Transitional Military Council, UNAMID camps in Darfur will be handed over to RSF.
Although various nations have felt that UNAMID has been beneficial to improving the situation in Sudan at least to some extent, it along with all UN Peacekeeping Missions in general has received a lot of criticism relating to failure of lack of resources, decisions etc. International conflicts appear to be heavily interconnected. The lack of resources can be traced to the cutting down of peacekeeping funds by the United States last year.
The RSF has already occupied 9 of UNAMID’s sites and is already reported of humanitarian crimes in the former-UN outposts, now which they control in Buram, South Darfur.
Contrary to common belief that the UN just suddenly ‘vanished’ from the scene and ‘immediately’ withdrew, the UNAMID withdrawal has been in operation since years, but gradually. Even at this point, UNAMID hasn’t completely retreated. There still are about 4000 UN peacekeepers in the region, which is a number smaller than before, but they have not ‘completely’ withdrawn.
Although the UN can be considered greatly at fault for failing to conduct effective risk assessment regarding the transfer of sites to RSF, it can not be blamed for total failure. At present, the UN has put on hold evacuation plans of 13 additional outposts until there is a pledge from the Transitional Military on use of these outposts for military purposes.
The withdrawal mission also does not stipulate any sudden halt on support to Sudan, but shifting of priorities from Sudan as a whole, to the ‘Jebel Marra’ part of Darfur as conflict remained high there, but reduced in other parts.
While at the time the decision was taken it would have made sense but at this point the entire sequence of events is a crisis at hand laying forth outcomes that no one had expected. Owing to that, the United Nations mustn’t continue with the plan at hand without changes. There are clear unexpected turn of events, and in response there must be a change of priorities once again.
Another reason for this shift in priorities and partial withdrawal (at present) is to provide local communities the chance to seize opportunities and strive forth for sustainable resilience. When a country constantly depends on international aid and support for peacekeeping, it does not sustain. For a country to sustain it must be independent in matters of peacekeeping and politics. While the current changes in scenario may represent a need to continue short-term conflict prevention, a long term approach to foster independence is also important. Not all challenges can be addressed by a peacekeeping mission. A transition process from peacekeeping to peacebuilding becomes increasingly important.
According to the Special Report of the Chairperson of the A.U. Commission and Secretary General the transition concept assumed constant support by the African Union Commission, UN, UNAMID and Sudan to assess key areas- security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and other key governance areas. It’s implementation was heavily based on joint collaboration between above mentioned stakeholders. The crisis that has erupted of late had not been expected.
While the entire conflict having complex roots may be hard to understand, at present the transitional military council must at least lift the blockage of internet as lines of communication are important for updates, details and statistics that ultimately help not only the youth to voice opinions, but even humanitarian organizations in knowing whats going on, where people need help and being able to effectively coordinate efforts.
The hindrance on lines of communication in Sudan puts massive question marks on any statistic that comes out- whether positive or negative. Are the numbers being exaggerated or underestimated? Are any progress reports being falsely made? What actually is the situation in Sudan? It puts a question mark on what activists say, it can potentially create a divide in the common goal for human rights on grounds of authenticity of information.
Sudan claims that there shouldn’t be international involvement, not even by the United Nations on the events following December 2018 on the reasoning that it is an internal matters and the UN must follow its charters guidelines on respecting sovereignty. However, we must also realize that while yes this may be an internal matter, it is being dealt with while violating multiple articles of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and multiple other international treaties. Why does Sudan resort to selective following of the UN Charter- it endorses the following of articles that free itself from outside interference while ignoring articles that prohibit the crimes they commit. If they find interference unfavorable, then they must know that the international community finds their atrocities unfavorable.
Next set of meetings begin with a briefing on UNAMID on 14th June, tomorrow. The International Criminal Court will make its 29th report to the UN Security Council on its work in Darfur on June 19th. If the Security Council continues their earlier plans without altering them as per current developments in crisis then the United Nations and UNAMID has clearly failed the very principles it claims to stand for.
Addressing Specific ‘Trends’
Keeping a Blue Profile Picture on Instagram
A large number of users on Instagram are changing and encouraging others to change their profile pictures to blue as a sign of support to Sudan. Many do so in order to spread awareness and many think it will make no difference at all and even ‘diss’ those who do it.
Understanding its background it can be seen that the color blue was chosen because a martyr of the Sudan Revolution had blue as his profile picture color and that it helps in spreading awareness.
It is reasonable to do so with the belief that it will spread awareness. However it still is somewhat of an insignificant measure, but to call it absolutely useless is a bit far-fetched.
Many use the reasoning that one shouldn’t keep their profile pictures as blue but go ahead and donate instead, it is true that just making your profile picture blue may not help much, but before action comes awareness and understanding and this contributes to the very basic need of knowing something exists, before rectifying it.
I personally believe that changing the profile picture will do very very little change, but it does no harm so I wouldn’t discourage people from doing so, but due to that I personally don’t want to keep mine as blue and encourage more of sharing information directly and encouraging donations, like I’ve written this post.
The Belief that Sudan is being left out due to religion and ethnicity
While to an extent it can be agreed that the crisis is not receiving adequate attention due to the religious and ethnic background of victims, it is to an extent, untrue. Crises of this sort are so frequent in this era, it seems as if world leaders have grown numb to whenever something like this happens because they’re so used to seeing conflict, they are no longer ‘alarmed’ as much as they should be- which results in lack of action and attention. Another reason to why this crisis lacks effective action at this point is its complexity, Sudan has remained in conflict since 1955, and expecting the international community to suddenly resolve the issue in a week or months time due to new updates is merely ideal but unrealistic.
References and Further Readings