Fourteen bases that had been run jointly by the United Nations and the African Union in Sudan’s Darfur region for 13 years are now under Sudan’s control and to be used by local populations.
The recent official handover comes following a framework agreement signed on March 4 between the United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and Sudan.
The U.N. Security Council voted last year to turn over the sites to the Sudanese government, but M’Baye Babacar Cissé, U.N. assistant secretary-general, said the repatriation of equipment and staff from Darfur had been going on for four months.
“The main beneficiaries were the local communities and the IDPs (internally displaced persons) and the teams’ sites were supposed to be used as vocational training centers, education centers, clinics, health centers or community activity centers,” Babacar told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus program.
Eight of the 14 sites were stripped bare by looters from the local communities in Darfur. But some of the sites are serving locals, Babacar said, referencing the former outposts known as Zalenji and Karma.
UNAMID repatriated its peacekeeping equipment to its respective countries along with about 6,000 staff members who had performed peacekeeping operations in Darfur since December 2020. Some of those operations, however, were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Babacar said.
“We had at the end of December 2020 programmatic activities as well as state liaison projects that were implemented by the U.N. agencies that were not completed because of the COVID crises that affected the operation.”
The pandemic interrupted some community projects that were directly under the supervision of Civil Affairs of UNAMID, including water projects and community engagement workshops with youth, women, and local traditional leaders.
The U.N. diplomat said Sudan’s transitional government now has the responsibility of protecting civilians against attacks in Darfur.