Amidst new reports of violence in the west Sudanese region of Darfur, the acting head of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission there, known by the acronym UNAMID, today voiced her dismay and concern over the matter.
“I am dismayed by these deaths, and very concerned over the repeated incidents that have led to the killing, injury of the local population, as well as their displacement,” said UNAMID's Acting Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator a.i., Aichatou Mindaoudou.
“I reiterate my strong condemnation of all forms of violence in Darfur, especially the attacks against civilians, which constitute serious crimes,” she added in a news release.
In the release, UNAMID noted that it had received reports of an alleged attack on civilians that resulted in fatalities, an abduction of a civilian and widespread population displacement. The attack reportedly took place on Friday in the village of Sigili, located in the Shawa area, about 40 kilometres southeast of El Fasher, the capital city of North Darfur.
According to media reports, 13 people were killed in the violence.
Earlier today, UNAMID sent a verification team to the area to gather information on the incident – however, the convoy the team was travelling in was prevented by the Government of Sudan's military, at Zam Zam checkpoint, from reaching the destination.
Also today, several hundred mourners marched in a funeral procession through El Fasher, in sympathy with the victims of the incident, carrying the bodies of ten people who had reportedly died in the attack and bringing them to the gate of UNAMID's headquarters in the city.
Representatives of the mourners met with the Mission's leadership and called, in particular, for an investigation into the violence, according to UNAMID. Following the meeting, UN police escorted the mourners, at their request, to bury the victims.
“I urge all the parties to avoid violence and choose the path of peace and negotiated settlement,” Ms. Mindaoudou stated.
Having begun in Darfur some nine years ago, the region's violence is mainly due to inter-communal fighting, attacks perpetrated by armed groups against civilians, and sporadic clashes between the Government and armed movements.
Established in July 2007, UNAMID has the protection of civilians as its core mandate. In addition, the Mission is tasked with facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid and assisting with an inclusive peace process in Darfur, among other responsibilities.