The United States on Wednesday accused Sudan of having threatened to expel the United Nations mission from the war-torn country if the UN envoy, already in Khartoum’s crosshairs, speaks before the Security Council on the atrocities of the conflict.
During a session devoted to Sudan and South Sudan, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, whose country is chairing the Council in August, slammed the absence of Volker Perthes, the special representative of the secretary-general in Sudan and head of the UN mission there, known as UNITAMS.
“We had expected SRSG Perthes to brief the Council. We now understand that the Sudanese government warned it would end the UN mission in Sudan if the SRSG participated in this briefing. And that is unacceptable,” the US ambassador said in front of her Sudanese counterpart, Al-Harith Idriss Al-Harith Mohamed.
The Sudanese ambassador denied the charge. “The mission of Sudan has not sent a letter or a correspondence saying that we are threatening to boycott the session,” he said.
But Thomas-Greenfield repeated the charge in front of assembled media after the session.
“We were told yesterday that Volker would be briefing the Council. And this morning his name was pulled. And we understand that that happened because the Sudanese government threatened to pull UNITAMS out of Sudan if he briefed the Council,” she said.
“We were appalled by it, it was outrageous, it was unacceptable,” she added.
The Sudan briefing was delivered by the Assistant Secretary General for Africa, Martha Ama Pobee, who said the conflict “continues to have immense repercussions on the country and its people who continue to face unimaginable suffering.”
She noted that “sexual violence continues to be perpetrated on a large scale, while children continue to be killed or victimized or are at risk of being recruited to fight.”
The war in Sudan, pitting the nation’s army under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (FSR) of General Mohamed Hamdan Dagl, began on April 15 and has claimed around 4,000 lives according to the NGO Acled, and has left nearly four million internally displaced persons and refugees.
In June, Perthes denounced possible “crimes against humanity” in Darfur, after which Khartoum declared him persona non grata, accusing him of being biased.
Farhan Haq, a spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres said Perthes “continues to be the Special Representative of the Secretary-General dealing with Sudan,” without however confirming the accusations of the US ambassador.