The joint African Union-United Nations mission assisting in restoring peace and stability in Darfur has called on one of the major rebel groups in the Sudanese region to stop impeding its work, while deploring the harassment and detention of its personnel.
The call from the mission, known as UNAMID, follows an incident on 4 November in which armed elements from the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) surrounded a UN helicopter which landed at Deribat, East Jabel Marra in South Darfur.
The group prevented the helicopter from taking off for three hours, before eventually releasing it and the UNAMID personnel on board who were on a field assessment in the area.
“UNAMID strongly deplores the periodic harassment and detention of its personnel and stresses that it will not tolerate any attempts at intimidation or attacks on its personnel that are aimed at thwarting the progress of the peace process,” the Mission said in a statement.
Since the conflict in Darfur began in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militia, some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed through direct combat or as a result of disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy, and more than 2.7 million others have been forced to flee their homes.
UNAMID has been in place in Darfur since the start of last year to try to quell the fighting and humanitarian suffering that has engulfed the region.