Russia abstained from the unanimous vote to end UNITAMS, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan. The United States’ and United Kingdom’s ambassadors expressed dismay over the decision to pull out from Sudan but said the move was inevitable, given the Sudanese government’s desire to end the mission’s presence.
While the United States voted in favor of this resolution in order to enable a safe and orderly drawdown, U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood said, “we are gravely concerned that a reduced international presence in the Sudan will only serve to embolden the perpetrators of atrocities.”
A paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces, which was born out of the notorious Janjaweed militias, has been at war against the Sudanese military since mid-April, when months of tension exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas.
The conflict has wrecked the country and forced more than six million people out of their homes, either to safer areas inside Sudan or to neighboring countries.
United Nations officials say that the U.N. will keep trying to help 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,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Thursday.
But the end of UNITAMS removes a tool, albeit a flawed one, for trying to bring a measure of stability to Sudan, said Cameron Hudson, a former U.S. official specializing in Africa and now a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“What we are looking at now is potentially an extended period of time when there is no overarching U.N. presence in the country,” Hudson said Friday.