Police units of the new United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) conducted their first “confidence-building” patrols in areas controlled by the Minni Minawi-led rebel group in the violence-torn region of Sudan, the mission said today.
“The safety of the citizens of Darfur is a priority for UNAMID,” said UNAMID Police Commissioner Michael Fryer, in announcing activities in the domain of the rebel group, which is a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).
“But curbing crime also involves the full cooperation of the entire community,” he added, explaining that the patrols aimed to strengthen cooperation and trust between the UN and the population and local police.
Fighting between rebels, the Government and allied militias has caused the deaths of over 200,000 and the displacement of more than two million people in Darfur over the past five years.
There are currently over 1,600 police officers, including 252 female officers, from 32 different countries serving with UNAMID, which took over from an African Union force at the beginning of the year.
The UN refugee agency, meanwhile, says it is continuing to provide emergency aid to small groups of Sudanese refugees from West Darfur who are still arriving on a daily basis in eastern Chad, fleeing a wave of aerial and ground attacks that began on 8 February.
Over the weekend, teams from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) distributed emergency kits to some of the refugees in the border area, which now number some 13,000.
The kits include blankets, as most of the new arrivals have been sheltering under trees for the past three weeks.