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‘Deeply troubled’ by Darfur rape allegations, Ban urges ‘unfettered’ access to town

An unexploded bomb on the way to Tabit from Shangil Tobaya, North Darfur.
UNAMID/Albert González Farran
An unexploded bomb on the way to Tabit from Shangil Tobaya, North Darfur.

‘Deeply troubled’ by Darfur rape allegations, Ban urges ‘unfettered’ access to town

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that he is deeply troubled about persistent allegations of mass rape in Tabit, North Darfur, and urged Government officials to grant unfettered access to the town so that investigators can verify these reports.

In a statement released by his spokesperson in New York, the UN Chief expressed concern that even after intense consultations with the Government in Sudan and with local authorities in Darfur, authorities investigating the reports were yesterday denied access to the town of Tabit.

Earlier this month, allegations of the mass rape of 200 women and girls in a town in North Darfur raised concerns in the war-torn Sudanese region as the African Union-United Nations hybrid mission pressed ahead with its efforts “to shed light” on what happened.

The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) first visited Tabit on 9 November. However, the heavy presence of military and police in Tabit made a conclusive investigation difficult.

“Only a full investigation by UNAMID will help shed light over these serious allegations,” the UN chief stressed today, as he urged the Government of Sudan to grant UNAMID unfettered access, without further delay, to Tabit and its population so that these reports can be verified.

At today’s regular briefing at Headquarters, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq announced that UNAMID had again asked for access to Tabit and will deploy a team immediately, once such access has been granted.

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.