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UNAMID moves to probe reports of airstrike in north Darfur village


May 18, 2011 (El-Fasher) – Darfur peacekeepers have set out to investigate reports of an airstrike carried out by government forces on a village in the north of Sudan’s western region.

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A Nepalese soldier with the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) stays focused during training at UNAMID’s Super Camp in El Fasher, Sudan (UN Photo/Olivier Chassot)

In its daily media brief on Wednesday, the UN-AU Hybrid Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said that its units based in Kuma, located approximately 100 kilometers northeast of North Darfur State’s provincial capital El-Fasher, are currently en route to the nearby village of Sukamir in order to verify reports of an airstrike conducted by government forces on the village.

The peacekeepers will aim to gather information on possible casualties and newly displaced persons, the media release pointed out.

Sudanese army’s air forces were accused on Monday of conducting two airstrikes in South Darfur State and causing casualties.

According to the Darfur Lawyers Association, warplanes bombarded Labado and Esheraya, located 30km south of El Daein, in South Darfur.

The group further said that 11 civilians were killed and seven others wounded during the bombing in Esheraya in South Darfur.

UNAMID on Monday corroborated, and expressed deep concern over, reports of the aerial bombardment in South Darfur.

The hybrid mission, however, failed to confirm the death figures cited by Darfur Lawyers Association, saying it had sent a team to investigate them.

"African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Joint Special Representative (JSR) Ibrahim Gambari is deeply concerned over recent air strikes in South Darfur," said a press release put out by the hybrid operation.

Gambari was quoted by the statement as calling on the "parties" in Darfur to "exercise the utmost restraint in the use of lethal force."

He further said that the "belligerents have a moral responsibility and obligation to respect humanitarian law and the rights of the innocent caught in the violence."

Darfur rebel groups, who have been fighting the government since the conflict erupted in 2003, did not mention that their positions were attacked.

Separately, UNAMID said in its Wednesday media brief that it had suspended flights to the regions of Shangil Tobaya, Fanga Suk and neighboring regions in North Darfur pending further notice after government officials cited security concerns.

The mission also said that restrictions on the movement of aid groups have led to the cancellation of a number of humanitarian missions.

Rebel groups and rights activist have repeatedly blamed the largest peacekeeping operation for its silence over the regular bombing of civilian areas in the restive region.

UNAMID has also come under criticism over its perceived failure to discharge the full power of its mandate and respond to restriction on its movement by the government.


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