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UNAMID won’t leave Darfur amid escalating violence: UN official

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December 16, 2014 (NEW YORK) – The head of the United Nations peacekeeping department, Hervé Ladsous, said the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) will not bow to Sudan’s request to leave the restive region amid rising violence there.

South African officers from the hybrid African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

A Darfuri media outlet based in the Netherlands reported accusations last month that Sudanese soldiers had raped some 200 women and girls in Tabit, a village 45km south-west of North Darfur capital El-Fasher.

Following these allegations, Sudanese authorities initially prevented a verification team from UNAMID from probing the claim but allowed them to visit the area one week later.

After the visit, UNAMID said they found no evidence confirming the mass rape claims.

However, Sudanese officials were angered by the remarks of UN officials who stressed the need for further investigation mentioning the heavy presence of military and police during the first probe.

Since then , Sudan refused to authorize a second investigation and called publicly for an exit strategy for the joint mission from Darfur.

Ladsous said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday that Sudan has asked them to form an exit strategy, stressing that exit was always an objective but Khartoum is doing it with a certain insistence and publicity which is a little bit special.

He said that a review of UNAMID had been completed and that he would consult with his African Union counterpart, adding that Khartoum knew the mission would not leave any time soon.

“It won’t happen tomorrow and not while we continue to see so much suffering. This year alone we’ve seen a further 430,000 displaced, which is a clear indication that the situation in Darfur is not good,” he said.

“What we’re seeing is fighting between unidentified militias and people are being killed, women are being raped,” the UN official added

Ladsous underscored the mission’s inquiry team was not able to investigate the alleged incident in Tabit in an independent way without being watched.

(ST)

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