Home | News    Wednesday 22 February 2012

Darfur rebels & UNAMID confirm release all peacekeepers, but have two versions


February 21, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Darfur rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) released Sudanese interpreters and a Yemeni police advisor, the rebels and the hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) confirmed on Tuesday.

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South African officers from the hybrid African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

The rebel group held a 55-person peacekeeping patrol in northwestern Darfur saying they entered without permission a territory they control. However, JEM fighters released the 50 Senegalese soldiers and two police advisors from Ghana and Rwanda.

The three others were suspected by the rebel group of being members of the Sudanese security service and refused to allow them to move. JEM spokesperson Gibreel Adam Bilal said on Monday they will be freed only if the investigation prove they are not working for the government.

Bilal, nevertheless, Tuesday announced the release of the Sudanese and the Yemeni peacekeeper saying they left with the UNAMID West Darfur Sector Commander, Brig. Gen. Mansamusa Mondeh, who held a meeting with the JEM commanders in the area.

The rebel spokesperson further told Sudan Tribune that Mondeh apologised for the entry of UNAMID patrol without prior authorization, and pledged to coordinate in the future with them to avoid such incident.

However, in a press statement released on Tuesday the joint mission gave another version. The UNAMID said all the members of the a long-range patrol returned to their home base in Umm Baru "without injury and without any conditionality."

UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gamabri once again condemned "the blockage" of the patrol reminding that the peacekeepers are mandated to protect civilians "throughout the Darfur region", in response to the rebels demand that they must get permission before entering their territory.

After hailing the role played by his Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, and Mondeh to secure the release of the patrol members, he warned that "any hostile act against a UN peacekeeper, including locally recruited staff, is a violation of international humanitarian law and a possible war crime."

The head of the world’s largest peacekeeping operation further emphasised that the stand-off only ended after the arrival of important reinforcements of UNAMID troops as the members of the patrol refused to leave the area without their three colleagues.

Yesterday Gibreel said the Senegalese soldiers refused to leave without the Sudanese workers but he did not mention the presence of the Yemeni peacekeeper among the retained people.

JEM rebels refuse to sign the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) despite their participation in the over two year peace process. they criticise Gambari for his support to the implementation of the framework agreement on the ground.

The rebel group also stated Gambari is not a neutral mediator and they refuse to see him mediating any future process to end the nine-year conflict with the Sudanese government.

The Joint Chief Mediator ad Interim, was Tuesday in Juba to ask the South Sudanese government to press Darfur rebel groups to join the DDPD. South Sudan and Uganda are considered by the international community as close allies to the Sudanese rebels.


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