Darfur: UN-African Union peacekeeping force extended as tensions rise

30 July 2010

The Security Council today voted to extend by another year the mandate of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, where violence once again rocked a large camp for people uprooted by the conflict in the war-ravaged Sudanese region.

The Security Council today voted to extend by another year the mandate of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, where violence once again rocked a large camp for people uprooted by the conflict in the war-ravaged Sudanese region.

In its unanimously adopted resolution, the Council strongly condemned all attacks on the mission, known as UNAMID, calling any attack or threat “unacceptable.”

In the past week alone, a group of blue helmets was ambushed in western Darfur, while in the region’s south, the pilot of a UNAMID helicopter was found safe yesterday after having been held for three days by local combatants.

The Council today said that it “demands that there be no recurrence of such attacks,” underscoring the importance of bolstering the security of UNAMID personnel and to end impunity for those who attack peacekeepers.

The 15-member body also called for all parties to the Darfur conflict to put an immediate end to violence, as well as all attacks on civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.

Some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed and another 2.7 million others displaced from their homes since fighting erupted in Darfur, an arid region on Sudan’s western flank, in 2003. Government forces, allied Janjaweed militiamen and rebel groups have all been accused of grave human rights violations.

Today’s resolution stressed that “there can be no military solution to the conflict in Darfur and that an inclusive political settlement and the successful deployment of UNAMID are essential to re-establishing peace.”

The mission today reported that more than 7,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have gathered around UNAMID’s community policing centre (CPC) outside the Kalma camp in southern Darfur after deadly violence yesterday.

Tensions have been rising at Kalma following the end of the latest round of peace talks in Doha, Qatar, with some groups contending they were unrepresented. Those tensions boiled over yesterday when hundreds of IDPs – some in support of the Doha process, some in opposition – took to Kalma’s streets. Many protesters were armed with sticks and machetes, and sporadic shooting was heard throughout the camp, UNAMID reported, adding that several deaths were recorded.

The mission has enhanced its security measures to ensure the safety of those gathered around the CPC, and is also working with local aid groups to provide medical assistance to those in need, including several women who had given birth.

Within the camp, UNAMID’s formed police units (FPUs) – comprising police officers trained in dealing with high-risk operations – are carrying out round-the-clock patrols, while the mission’s civilian staff are mediating talks among community leaders.

“Violence will only add to the people’s suffering,” said Mohammed Yonis, Deputy Joint Special Representative for UNAMID. “It is only through working together and talking to each other that we will bring peace to this land.”

In a statement issued by his spokesperson yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on “all concerned to address their differences through political dialogue and to refrain from any action that could incite violence.”

Later today, the Council issued a press statement in which members voiced serious concern about the casualties in Kalma camp and the recent attacks against peacekeepers, and urged all sides to resolve the conflict peacefully.

 

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Blue helmets come under fire in western Darfur, UN reports

Peacekeepers on patrol in the west of the war-ravaged Sudanese region of Darfur were ambushed today by unidentified gunmen, with seven blue helmets sustaining injuries, the United Nations reported today.