UN-African Union official stresses need to protect displaced persons in North Darfur
The military commander of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, known by the acronym UNAMID, today stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Sudanese state of North Darfur, after recent violence in the area resulted in the deaths of four people and injured six others.
During a meeting on Sunday with leaders from the Kassab camp for IDPs in the area of Kutum, UNAMID's Force Commander, Lieutenant General Patrick Nyamvumba, discussed various security concerns and reiterated the mission's commitment to ensure the full protection of civilians in the camp.
“As commander of the forces, I have requested that permanent forces are stationed in Kassab camp; they have instructions to protect and defend the civilians on the ground,” Lieutenant General Nyamvumba said.
The recent violence and attacks on civilians in Kutum began in early August, with the shooting of the Alwaha district commissioner and his driver during a car-jacking by three unidentified armed men. The vehicle was recovered later that same day, in the vicinity of the Kassab camp.
Since then, there have been a series of incidents involving looting and fighting between armed elements and Government forces, which has led to the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Kutum, as well as the Kassab IDP camp. UNAMID has responded by deploying a 24/7 protection force presence in affected IDP camps to protect civilians.
Lieutenant General Nyamvumba urged community leaders to share information with the Mission to deter further violence, and pointed out that the Government of Sudan must ensure that there is no impunity for those responsible for the violence.
“The Mission is not in a position to apprehend or arrest; we can only put pressure on the Government and ensure that is done,” he said.
Deployed at the beginning of 2008, UNAMID is tasked with protecting civilians, promoting an inclusive peace process and helping ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance across Darfur, an arid region on Sudan's western flank.
Also on Monday, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, strongly condemned an attack on Sunday in which a Bangladeshi peacekeeper was killed and another injured while protecting civilians in Nyala, South Darfur.
“The President extends his deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims of this heinous attack,” the statement read, adding that Mr. Al-Nasser reaffirmed his full support to the mission and its role in bringing stability to Darfur.
Since the initial deployment of the mission on 31 December 2007, 38 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of hostile actions.
In another statement, a spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon conveyed the UN chief's deep regret over the attack.
“The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the families of the fallen and injured peacekeepers and to the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson added in the statement. “The Secretary-General has urged the Government of Sudan and UNAMID to conduct a full investigation into this incident.”