UNITED NATIONS — As Sudan’s Darfur conflict enters its 10th year, a senior international envoy for the region warns that inter-ethnic conflict is on the rise and cause for concern.
The African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, told the U.N. Security Council Wednesday that the situation in Darfur remains volatile. He said since the beginning of the year, fighting between government forces and rebel groups and other inter- and intra-ethnic clashes have led to loss of life, prolonged displacement of civilians, economic hardships and loss of property.
He said tensions over access to and control of land, water and mineral resources have led to a surge in inter-ethnic violence in Darfur’s states.
“The increased militarization and proliferation of arms amongst civilian populations in Darfur, accompanied by deterioration in the humanitarian conditions for host communities and IDP populations, has meant that inter-ethnic violence has actually brought about more death, injury and displacement than the fighting between the government and non-signatories in 2013,” said Chambas.
He noted that the peacekeeping mission also has come under attack, most recently in mid-July, when unknown gunmen ambushed a patrol, killing seven peacekeepers in the firefight that followed.
The Ghanaian diplomat took over the 19,000-strong African Union-United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur, known as UNAMID, in April. He said the mission has an adequate number of troops, but needs more equipment and better training in order to carry out its mandate, which includes protection of civilians.
He also noted that the implementation of a peace deal has been slow, but still represents the most viable way to resolve the conflict. He urged major armed movements, such as the SLM/Minni Minawi, SLM/Abdul Wahid and JEM/Gibril Ibrahim to renounce violence and join the talks.
The U.N. estimates that more than 300,000 people have been killed during the nearly decade-long conflict.