Operation SAFARI

Operation SAFARI was Canada’s participation in the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). As such, it was the military component of the Canadian whole-of-government engagement in southern Sudan, which involved the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Task Force Sudan

Task Force Sudan, the Canadian Forces team deployed on Operation SAFARI, was the Canadian contingent in UNMIS. At its peak, Task Force Sudan comprised 30 Canadian Forces members, including 20 serving as United Nations Military Observers (UNMOs) at team sites across southern Sudan, eight on the staff at UNMIS Headquarters in Khartoum, and three with the Canadian support element in Khartoum.

Mission context

Civil war in Sudan

A civil war between the peoples of northern and southern Sudan began in 1983, following the breakdown of an agreement made in 1972 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For more than 20 years, the Government of Sudan, representing the north, and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), the main rebel movement in the south, fought over resources, political authority, the role of religion in the state, and self-determination. Between 1983 and 2011, more than 2 million people in Sudan had died, about 4 million people had become “internally displaced” within Sudan, and some 600,000 people had fled the country as refugees.

During 2002, a peace process sponsored by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development made significant progress. On 20 July 2002, the parties to the conflict signed the Machakos Protocol, a framework agreement covering principles of governance, a transitional process and structures of government, as well as the right to self-determination for the people of South Sudan, and the relationship between the state and religion. They agreed to continue talks on the outstanding issues of sharing authority and wealth, promoting human rights, and maintaining a ceasefire agreement.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement

The civil war was formally ended by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed on 9 January 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya, by representatives of the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A.

Although both sides accepted unity of Sudan as a priority, the terms of the CPA set an interim period of six and a half years during which temporary institutions would govern the country, and the international community would be invited to monitor conditions.

U.N. intervention: UNMIS

In his report to the U.N. Security Council on 31 January 2005, Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended the deployment of a multinational peace-support operation with up to 10,000 military personnel and an appropriate civilian component, including more than 700 police officers.

UNMIS was established under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter by Security Council Resolution 1590 of 24 March 2005, with a mandate to support implementation of the CPA, and to perform functions relating to humanitarian assistance, and the protection and promotion of human rights. That mandate was extended to 30 April 2011 by Resolution 1784 of 31 October 2007.

In support of the CPA, UNMIS provided good offices and political support to both sides, monitored and verified their security arrangements, and offered assistance in areas such as governance, recovery and development. The mission focused on commitments by both sides to withdraw their forces from contested areas, and to prepare for the national election of 2010 and referenda on independence held in South Sudan in January 2011 and scheduled to be held in Abyei, but still pending.


In compliance with the CPA, two referenda were scheduled in Sudan. In the first, conducted from 9 January to 15 January 2011, the people of South Sudan voted on a choice between continued integration into the Sudanese state, and independence. In the second, to be conducted if the South Sudan referendum produced a vote for separation, the people of Abyei would choose to join either North Sudan or South Sudan.

In July 2010, at the request of the parties to the CPA, the United Nations Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division (UNIRED) was formed to monitor the referenda, and other elections in Sudan, to ensure their reliability and acceptance by the people of Sudan and the international community.

South Sudan

The referendum campaign and voting process, conducted by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) with direct support from UNIRED, were peaceful and almost without incident. UNMIS limited its participation in the South Sudan referendum to providing technical, logistical and security assistance.

The referendum process also included out-of-country voting for Sudanese citizens living in Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The results of the vote in the south indicated a voter participation rate exceeding 95 percent, and overwhelming support for secession and independence. The formal assumption of sovereignty took place on 9 July 2011 in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

After independence, the United Nations fielded a follow-on mission, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), to which the Canadian Forces contributes through Operation SOPRANO.


The referendum in Abyei, originally scheduled for January 2011, was postponed until the issue of voter eligibility could be settled.

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