UN probes police assault of staff at social gathering in Darfur
The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is investigating an incident in which 20 people, including five UN staff, taking part in a social gathering in a Darfur town were arrested by local police and assaulted – in some cases causing serious injuries – before being released.
The Mission said today that the UN will officially protest to the Sudanese Government over the arrests and physical and verbal assaults that followed the raid on a gathering in the compound of an international non-governmental organization (NGO) in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state.
UNMIS said in a press statement that it is “deeply concerned at the treatment of the detained staff,” and added the assaults by police and security officials were “in violation of basic principles of rule of law and due process.”
Some of the injuries sustained by the staff members were so serious they required treatment at the UN clinic in Nyala. The people arrested included African Union peacekeepers and aid workers as well as the UN staff.
UNMIS said it would continue its inquiry into Friday’s events in cooperation with the relevant Sudanese authorities in both Khartoum and Nyala.
The UN Staff Council’s committee on staff security also issued a statement in which they condemned the attack, called the recent increase in cases of harassment of UN personnel and aid workers operating in Sudan unacceptable and requested a complete review of the security situation in the UNMIS area of operation.
UNMIS has been stepping up its presence in war-torn Darfur as part of a three-phase process of enhanced support for the AU mission known as AMIS. Under the plan, AMIS will eventually be replaced by a hybrid UN-AU force comprising about 17,000 peacekeepers and 3,000 police officers.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million others displaced from their homes in Darfur since 2003, when Government forces and allied militias began fighting rebel groups seeking greater autonomy for the arid and impoverished region on Sudan’s western flank.
UN officials have described Darfur as the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and recently expressed concern about the potential spillover of the conflict into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR).