Security Council Agrees to Terminate UN Political Mission in Sudan

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The UN Security Council adopted a resolution Friday to end its political mission in Sudan on Sunday following a request from Khartoum.

A United Nations political mission in war-torn Sudan will end on Sunday after the UN Security Council voted Friday to shut it down following a request last month from Sudanese authorities.

Fourteen of the council’s 15 members adopted Friday’s resolution to terminate the mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), while Russia abstained.

Starting Monday, a three-month transition period will begin to allow for the departure of UNITAMS personnel and the transfer of some of its tasks to other UN agencies “where appropriate and to the extent feasible”.

The UN mission in Sudan employs 245 people, including 88 in Port Sudan, as well as others in Nairobi and Addis Ababa, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said last month.

“Let me be clear. The United Kingdom would not have chosen to close UNITAMS at this moment,” deputy British UN Ambassador James Kariuki, whose country drafted the text.

US envoy Robert Wood said: “We are gravely concerned that a reduced international presence in Sudan will only serve to embolden the perpetrators of atrocities with dire consequences for civilians.”

In its text, the 15-member council expressed “alarm at the continued violence and humanitarian situation, in particular violations of international humanitarian law and grave human rights violations and abuses” in Sudan.

UNITAMS was established by the council in June 2020 to provide support to Sudan during its political transition to democratic rule following the fall of the previous year of President Omar al-Bashir. But in October 2021, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan assumed power in a coup.

On 15 April 2023, before a deal on resuming the transition to democracy could be signed, war erupted between the Sudanese army led by Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

Six million people have since been forced from their homes and 25 million need humanitarian help, the UN says.

Burhan later blamed UNITAMS chief Volker Perthes for the violence and demanded his removal. Perthes stepped down in September, with no replacement.

The Sudanese government demanded the withdrawal of the UN mission, saying it had been “disappointing”. Since the UN needs the host nation’s approval to operate, it had no choice but to end the mission.

“We reiterate that the Sudanese authorities remain responsible for the safety and security of UNITAMS staff and assets during this transition and call for their full cooperation in allowing an orderly withdrawal,” Britain’s Kariuki told the council on Friday.

UN officials said the world body will keep trying to help the Sudanese people with the continuing presence of various humanitarian agencies. “What is clear and what should be clear to everyone is that the United Nations is not leaving Sudan,” Dujarric told reporters Thursday.