Sudan: UN-AU Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur Deeply Concerned Over Violence in North Darfur

Photo: Derk Segaar/IRIN
Displaced by conflict (file photo).

The United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur today voiced its deep concern over recent violence and attacks on civilians in and around the town of Kutum, in the Sudanese state of North Darfur.

"I call upon all parties involved to put down their arms, to seek a peaceful resolution and a common dialogue. Killing and destruction are not the answer," said Ibrahim Gambari, the Joint Special Representative and head of the peacekeeping mission, known by the acronym UNAMID.

"It is my hope that the government with promptly restore law and order in the area, fulfilling its responsibility to protect civilians and to allow those recently displaced to return to their homes," he added in an UNAMID news release.

The peacekeeping operation noted that the series of incidents began on 1 August, with the shooting of the Alwaha district commissioner and his driver during a car-jacking by three unidentified armed men. The vehicle was recovered later that same day, in the vicinity of the Kassab camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Later that day, armed men surrounded Kassab, looted its market and burnt down the police post located within. Three civilians and one police officer were reported killed, in addition to six people injured.

In the following days, similar events took place - such as fighting between armed elements and Government forces, looting and the displacement of civilians - leading to a deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation around Kutum, and the Kassab and Fataborno IDP camps.

UNAMID's response measures have included the deployment of a 24/7 protection force presence in affected IDP camps to protect civilians. An UNAMID assessment team today visited Kutum and Kassab IDP camp to meet with local authorities and community representatives, and to evaluate the conditions on the ground and the needs of the population.

Mr. Gambari has directly engaged Government officials on their responsibility to provide protection and defuse tension. In addition, in his capacity as the acting Joint Chief Mediator, he is starting a mediation track between feuding parties, in line with the Security Council's resolution 2063.

Adopted at the end of July, the resolution extended the mandate of UNAMID for another year, while also underlining the need for the peacekeeping operation to give priority to its dealing with the protection of civilians, including at IDP camps.

Mr. Gambari has requested that the Government of Sudan investigates the reported attacks, adding that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

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