21 January; UNAMID officially handed over its Team Site in Saraf Omra, North Darfur to the Government of Sudan, in the presence of the local officials, representatives of the local community and UNAMID staff. The handover of Saraf Omra Team Site is part of the Mission’s drawdown process that is in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2559 (2020), which terminated UNAMID mandate as of 31 December 2020 and authorized a six-month period for the Mission to complete the withdrawal of all uniformed and civilian UNAMID personnel by 30 June 2021, other than those required for the mission’s liquidation. The handover documents were signed by Mr. Houston Fergusson, Director of the Mission Support Division, on behalf of UNAMID and Mr. Hafiz Bakhit, signed on behalf of the North Darfur State Government.
In key remarks made at the handover ceremony, the Executive Director of Saraf Omra Locality, Native Administration and Civil Society Organizations representatives, all commended the pivotal role played by UNAMID in the protection of civilians, the fostering of peace and stability in their area and the continuous social and health support provided to their communities. They all affirmed that the former Team Site will be used as a Vocational Training Centre to be freely utilized by the whole community for educational and empowerment purposes in the Locality. Furthermore, the local representatives appealed to their community, including security agencies, to work together to protect the gifted team site and assets for the benefit of the local population.
Mr. Hafiz Bakhit, who represented the Wali (Governor) of North Darfur State at the event, extended the gratitude of the people of Sudan and the population of North Darfur in particular, to the United Nations, the African Union, the Jordanian Contingent and all those who have been working in Saraf Omra Locality to bring peace and stability since the beginning of the crisis in the area, noting that what UNAMID has left behind as a facility and assets, demonstrates the Mission’s true commitment and engagement towards sustainable peace, security, and stability in the locality of Saraf Omra.
Mr. Bakhit further reiterated his Government’s commitment to using the former UNAMID Team Site and the gifted assets strictly for civilian end use – as a Vocational Training Center- ensuring that all gifted items will be used for the benefit of the entire local community. “I call upon the people of Saraf Omra to join hands with the locality security apparatus to protect the former Team Site and its assets for the interest of all of us in this community. I strongly appeal to those who are still holding arms to put down their arms and join the peace process to ensure lasting peace and stability in Sudan and Darfur in particular,” Mr. Bakhit added.
Speaking at the occasion, UNAMID’s Director of Mission Support Division, Mr. Houston Fergusson, noted that the seamless handover of the former Team Site premises and associated assets marks a milestone in the Mission’s drawdown process, observing that this is indeed “..a happy day for UNAMID, the UN and African Union because the Jordanian Formed Police Unit and UNAMID civilian staff have completed their mission in Saraf Omra. We leave the Team Site in the good hands of the Wali of North Darfur State and his administration who are working, most importantly, with the Native Administration, Civil Society, the Unions, the local Commissioner and the people of Saraf Omra. UNAMID and the UN are grateful to the Government of Sudan and North Darfur Wali for making this commitment to continue this partnership on the ground and we hope that the assets and the materials we leave behind will contribute to the success of that joint venture. UNAMID fully appreciates the strong commitment of the Government of Sudan regarding the utilization of the Mission’s former camp in Saraf Omra as a vocational training center”
At the end of the event, the UN and AU Flags were lowered, and the Sudanese Flag raised as part of the official handover protocol for such events.
The handover ceremony is a culmination of weeks of relentless interaction between UNAMID, through its Drawdown Working Group, in liaison with North Darfur state authorities and the local communities in Saraf Omra. More UNAMID Team Sites are scheduled for closure and handover to Government of Sudan in the coming months as part of the Mission’s intricate drawdown procedure.