Allegations of the mass rape of 200 women and girls in a town in North Darfur continue raise concerns in the war-torn Sudanese region as the African Union-United Nations hybrid mission there presses ahead with its efforts “to shed further light” on the reports.
According to UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq, the Acting Joint Special Representative of UNAMID, Abiodun Bashua, was in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, today for a meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the allegations as part of its ongoing inquiry into the events.
“The Mission continues its efforts to shed further light on the reports of alleged rape and to receive unfettered access to potential witnesses and victims so that they can conduct a thorough investigation,” Mr. Haq told reporters. “The Mission says it is also concerned by reports in the media about the alleged detention of villagers in Tabit and is seeking to verify them.”
UNAMID has expressed deep concern about the allegations of mass rapes in Tabit, which is located 45 kilometres south-west of El Fasher, in North Darfur, declaring that it would conduct a thorough investigation into the veracity of the claims.
Earlier this week, the Mission announced it had initiated an investigation in Tabit but said that its team had found no evidence confirming the claims and received no information regarding the purported acts. Village community leaders reiterated to UNAMID that they “coexist peacefully” with local military authorities in the area.
Nevertheless, said the Mission in a statement, “further follow-up actions on the matter” would be undertaken, including possible additional investigations and patrols, in coordination with relevant host authorities and in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement between the Government of Sudan and UNAMID.
Tensions have been simmering across Darfur over the past few months. In October, an attack on UNAMID peacekeepers by armed militants claimed the lives of three peacekeepers.
The UN estimates that some 385,000 people have been displaced by the conflict between the Government of Sudan and armed movements in Darfur since the start of 2014. The world body has repeatedly called on all sides to join negotiations aimed at achieving a permanent ceasefire and comprehensive peace for the people of Darfur, which has witnessed fighting since 2003.
UNAMID, formally established in 2007, has been mandated to protect civilians, support humanitarian assistance, monitor and verify implementation of agreements, contribute to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law, and assist in the political reconciliation following the 2003 civil war between the Government of Sudan and militias and other armed rebel groups.