Home | News    Saturday 27 December 2008

Angry children injure UNAMID peacekeeper in Darfur

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December 26, 2008 (EL FASHER) – Children from Hamadiya internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp threw rocks at a peacekeeper on security duty at the Zalingei airstrip in West Darfur on Monday.

The peacekeeper, who was serving with the UN-African Union hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID), sustained a critical injury to his head, said a spokesperson for the mission.

Hamadiya is one of five refugee camps surrounding Zalingei housing 120,000 people. The incident follows efforts by Sudanese authorities and the hybrid mission to negotiate between government-backed militias in the area and sheikhs of the nearby Hassa Hissa IDP camp, one of whom was murdered earlier this month.

The UN Department of Safety and Security and UNAMID military and police personnel held a meeting with the National Intelligence Security Services (NISS) and leaders of the camp to discuss the incident. The traditional leader of the camp offered his apology, adding that measures would be taken to prevent a repeat of the incident.

According to Ted Chaiban, the outgoing head of UNICEF in Sudan, 2.3 million children have been affected by the conflict in Darfur, which amounts to roughly half of those bearing the humanitarian consequences of the conflict.

Generally these children have spent up to almost six years in urbanised camps where Darfuris concentrated for protection from a massive counter-insurgency campaign that began in 2003.

Zalingei is the hometown of the main Sudan Liberation Army rebel leader, Abdelwahid al-Nur, who lives in exile in France. The IDP camps around Zalingei are among the most politicised in Darfur.

A year ago when the UN special envoy to Darfur Jan Eliasson visited Hassa Hissa camp, camp leaders read out a long list of steps that they require be taken before engaging in political process with the government, and Al-Nur’s father, Mohamed Ahmed al-Nur, stayed in his shop in Zalingei and did not meet with the UN envoy.

Earlier this month a member of the Khartoum-backed janjaweed was killed following a dispute with IDPs in Hassa Hissa Camp. The next day some 30 militiamen, seeking revenge, marched towards the camp shooting in the air sporadically. They destroyed five water pumps supplying the camp of Hassa Hissa.

The Sudanese police and the former African Union peacekeeping troops (AMIS) had been forced to pull out of the camp when Abdelwahid rejected the Darfur Peace Agreement in May 2006.

Eleven UNAMID soldiers have died this year. Thus far there are 9,078 soldiers and 2,282 police deployed as UNAMID peacekeepers in Darfur, an area roughly the size of France.

UN officials said that some 300,000 people have died in the conflict and more than 2.7 million are displaced from the conflict in Darfur, which spilled over into neighbouring Chad.

(ST)

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