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Sudan downplays investigation into alleged UNAMID “cover-up”

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August 12, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has downplayed intention of the United Nations to send a team to investigate allegations that the Darfur joint peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) covered up crimes committed against civilians and peacekeepers by Sudanese government and other parties in the restive region.

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Amin Hassan Omer (ST/file)

Amin Hassan Omer, head of Darfur peace implementation office said the government is not concerned with the investigation, stressing it is an internal UN administrative issue.

The head of UNAMID, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, on Monday announced that a UN team will arrive in Darfur within two weeks to investigate allegations made by the mission’s ex-spokesperson Aicha Elbasri that the mission covered up crimes.

Elbasri, who resigned from her post in April 2013, revealed that the mission had misinformed the UN by withholding important details about Darfur conflict.

"UNAMID has observed the government forces indiscriminately bombing entire villages, targeting civilian and military targets alike. However, these observations are never publicly reported in the regular updates by the UN Secretary General to the UNSC,” she claimed.

She reported that the UN peacekeeping mission did not tell the world that the Khartoum government failed to disarm the Janjaweed militias; that it, conversely, reintegrated them into paramilitary forces under new names, and let them continue committing their widespread, systematic attacks directed against the civilian population in Darfur.

Chambas told reporters on Monday that after these allegations, the Security Council asked the UN Secretary-General to “find out the truth about the matter”. He further said that last week he met with members of the investigation committee.

Omer told the pro-government Sudan Media Center (SMC) wenbsite that all UNAMID personnel are UN employees, saying the latter have the right to investigate reports submitted by the mission if it doubted their validity.

He expressed surprise that the UN launched an investigation at this time while turning a blind eye on atrocities committed by rebel groups including hijacking of a UN aircraft by the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) for a week besides kidnapping of IDPs’ leaders who were en route to El-Fashir to participate in a peace conference two years ago by the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel-Wahid Al-Nour (SLM-AW).

The Sudanese official underscored the need for the UN to adhere to accuracy, discipline, transparency and impartiality measures as it is an international organization which includes several countries.

On the issue of extending UNAMID duration, Omer said it is a routine procedure but it must be subject to close scrutiny, pointing out that the investigation team must look into the mission’s performance and mandate before such a decision could be made.

UNAMID was formally approved by UN Security Council Resolution 1769 on July 31, 2007 to bring stability to the war-torn Darfur region while peace talks on a final settlement continue.

It is the largest peacekeeping mission in the world. It was deployed in 2007 and by April 2013 had deployed 20,852 personnel, mostly from African countries. It has a mandate to protect civilians affected by the civil wars in Darfur but has been critcised on many occasions for failing to fulfill this.

Darfur has been a flashpoint for lawlessness and violence since the eruption of an insurgency in 2003.

These mainly non-Arab tribes accuse Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and his government of neglecting and marginalising them.

The United Nations estimates as many as 300,000 people have been killed and almost 3 million people have been displaced during the ongoing conflict. According to the UN Human Rights Council, 400,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced.

(ST)

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