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UNSC’s Darfur visit tarnished by demonstration and kidnapping

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October 7, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The longtime planned visit of UN Security Council to the restive region of North Darfur experienced a tough first day as supporters of Sudan’s President Omer Al-Bashir organized a hostile reception and gunmen abducted a peacekeeper in El-Fasher.

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Pro-government supporters confront members of the United Nations Security Council, centre, upon their arrival at El Fasher, in Sudan’s North Darfur region, on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010 (AP)

Ambassadors and representatives of the 15 state members of the UN Security Council, including the five permanent Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States arrived today to the capital of North Darfur, El-Fasher where is located the headquarters of the hybrid peacekeeping operation.

The delegation which was warmly welcomed in Juba, was received in El Fasher with slogans against the International Criminal Court (ICC) while supporters of Sudanese president Al-Bashir shouted "With our blood, with our soul we sacrifice for Bashir".

However besides UNAMID senior officials headed by Ibrahim Gambari there was the governor of North Darfur Osman Mohamed Yousef Kibir who welcomed the visiting delegation including US Ambassador Susan Rice.

The delegation made her way to the UNAMID headquarters among draconian security measures surrounded by peacekeepers riding vehicles and heavy machine guns. The scene was in total contrast with jubilant southerners who lined the streets of Juba from the airport to the downtown of southern Sudan capital.

On Friday the delegation is expected to visit unannounced camp for the internally displaced persons. There are three large gathering points for Darfur IDPs near El-Fasher: Abu Shok and As Salaam camps situated 4 km north-west of the state capital. There also Zam Zam camp located 16 km south of the city.

Today the Sudanese army admitted rebels’ statements on attacks by government troops in central Darfur area of Jebel Marra. The rebels said the attacks forced thousands of villagers to flee their homes but the government said the civilians begun to return home after the establishment of security by its troops.

PEACEKEEPER KIDNAPPED

The visit of UN Security Council to North Darfur coincided with the first abduction of a peacekeeper in the center of the capital El-Fasher.

Gunmen stormed on Thursday evening a residence of four UNAMID civilian staff members in El-Fasher. The armed men seized two men but one of them escaped and the other is considered missing by the mission.

The attack is a big blow for the Sudanese authorities which said struggling to establish security in the region. This week the Sudanese army refuted accusations against border guards who are one of government militias saying they are disciplined and part of the Sudan Armed Forces.

The UNAMID did not disclose the identity of the abducted personnel but said he is a foreigner.

The kidnappers used a UNAMID vehicle to run away. The police imposed a blockade on main streets of the city to prevent them from leaving the two.

Although the conflict began in 2003, the abduction of foreigners increased in Darfur since Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was indicted for war crimes in March 2009, for his government’s response to the insurgency.

Over 22 aid workers and peacekeepers were kidnapped in the troubled region. But the shortest abduction lasted less than two days when on August 13 two Jordanians were captured by gunmen nar Nyala but they released two days later on August 15.

(ST)

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