[As prepared for delivery]
I am pleased to join you today in solidarity with the people of Darfur and their aspirations for peace. Today’s Darfur looks very different from the Darfur of ten years ago when the African Union and United Nations deployed our joint peacekeeping mission. In the Darfur of today, we see intermittent clashes in the mountains of the Jebel Marra, but violent conflict has subsided. Outside of that zone, fighting has largely ended, and intercommunal clashes have been considerably reduced. This is a significant achievement and a clear expression that our goal of silencing the guns in Africa can be a reality. At the same time, some of the grievances that crystallized into conflict more than 15 years ago remain unaddressed. Land and natural resources continue to be disputed. Many internally displaced persons have yet to return to their homes. Weapons are still proliferating. A comprehensive cessation of hostilities still needs to be agreed. And tribal militias continue to pose a threat. Meanwhile, the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur remains uneven. We are also keenly aware that ordinary Darfuris continue to face dire challenges: lawlessness, criminality, a humanitarian crisis, human rights violations, sexual violence, lack of progress in sustainable development, limited livelihoods, poor access to education, employment opportunities and basic social services, and a lack of effective rule of law and security services. A generation of children and young people have lost their childhoods to conflict. A third of the population continues to bear the consequences of displacement, including those who remain as refugees outside the country. Darfur is increasingly stable, but gains are fragile. Ensuring they take hold is critical. This is an immense task. But we must persevere. A resumption of conflict would have dramatic consequences for Darfuris, the region and beyond. The needs of the Darfuri people have evolved, and the UN system having recently signed the AU-UN Framework is adapting its response. We are working to reinforce the rule of law, to build resilience and provide durable solutions for the displaced population and host communities. We are striving to provide immediate services for internally displaced persons, to protect civilians, to promote respect of human rights and to enable women and youth to play a central role in building peace.While our peacekeeping mission, UNAMID, is preparing to draw down, the United Nations will remain by the side of the people and leaders of Darfur. The agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations Country Team will continue to work with the Sudanese Government in advancing sustainable development. Darfur also faces chronic funding shortfalls. It is now crucial to fill these gaps to avoid relapse into conflict. I appeal to all of you, our partners in Darfur, for your support during this transition to a sustainable future. This is not the time to disengage. We have invested $16 billion in peacekeeping alone over the past ten years, in addition to humanitarian funding and bilateral aid to alleviate the suffering of the population. As the region recovers from war, now is the time to consolidate gains, step up and make sure Darfur moves towards peace and prosperity. This is an opportunity to reset our engagement in Darfur and plan for recovery and long-term development. As peacekeeping costs come down, investing in development to sustain peace offers real value. We ask you to be the champions of Darfur. Toward that end, we are proposing the creation of a “Group of Friends of the Transition in Darfur”. The Group would provide political support and ensure the United Nations Country Team has sufficient resources during this period. We also propose holding a pledging conference in the near future so that the UN system can ramp up its work immediately. This would ensure there is no gap in critical work as UNAMID draws down. Supporting this transition towards sustainable development is our best chance to turn the page of this conflict and to be an example to start building peace. I hope we can count on you.Thank you.
Spokesperson’s website: http://www.un.org/sg/en/spokesperson