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Washington says concerned about Darfur IDPs detained after meeting US envoy

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August 15, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The United States has expressed deep concern over Sudan’s government continued detention of at least 15 Darfurians including one Sudanese national working for the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

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U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth and his team members pose for a picture with Darfur IDPs on 2 August 2016 (Photo US Embassy Khartoum Facebook page)

On July 26, the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, started a visit to Darfur states to assess the security and humanitarian situation on the ground particularly in Jebel Marra area.

Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on August 1st, arrested 15 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) leaders in Nertiti town, Central Darfur following a meeting with Booth.

Director of the office of press relations at the US States Department, Elizabeth Trudeau, in a press release on Friday said the detentions followed a visit by Booth to North and Central Darfur states as well as IDPs camps at Sortoni and Nertiti in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur from July 26-28, 2016.

“Many others who were not detained were nonetheless questioned by security officials about the nature of their contact with the Special Envoy” read the statement.

It pointed that the US immediately expressed its concern about the reported detentions to senior Sudanese officials, calling on the Sudanese government to immediately release all of those detained.

“These actions are particularly unfortunate as they undercut the Government of Sudan initially granting permission for the Special Envoy’s fact-finding visit and allowing him to travel to areas and speak with individuals of his choosing” it added.

The statement further urged the Sudanese government “to respect its citizens’ rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including by the press”, saying they are vital elements “for an environment conducive to an inclusive national dialogue for which all continue to work”.

UN agencies estimate that more than 120,000 people have been displaced by the fierce clashes which occurred since last January between the government army and the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) led by Abel-Wahid al-Nur.

Jebel Marra, which spans over three states including North, Central and South Darfur, is located at a water-rich area that is characterized by mild climate.

On 12 April, the Sudanese army declared Darfur a region free of rebellion following the capture of Srounq area, the last SLM-AW stronghold in Jebel Marra.

(ST)

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