The joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur today condemned the arrest of dozens of internally displaced persons (IDPs) by an unidentified armed group while they were en route to a national conference.
According to the mission (UNAMID), a convoy of three commercial buses carrying 31 IDPs and escorted by peacekeepers was stopped yesterday by the armed group, whose members were in military uniforms and seven jeep-mounted guns.
"Despite UNAMID opposition, the armed group forced the IDPs to an unknown location," the mission said in a press release.
The group was seized between the Arga crossing point and Kass locality, a border area between Central Darfur state and South Darfur state.
The mission has received conflicting reports from some sources that the IDPs have been released, but no official sources from the Government of Sudan have confirmed the release. It has been unable to independently verify these reports but "is sparing no effort to ascertain the current situation of the IDPs."
The UNAMID peacekeepers were escorting the group at the request of the Darfur Regional Authority from the town of Zalingei in Central Darfur state to Nyala, the site of an IDP and refugee conference.
"UNAMID condemns this incident and stands ready to escort the IDPs to the Nyala conference, and to provide any other assistance," the mission said.
Established in July 2007, UNAMID has the protection of civilians as its core mandate, but is also tasked with contributing to security for humanitarian assistance, monitoring and verifying implementation of agreements and assisting with an inclusive political process, amongst other responsibilities.