Thursday, January 15, 2009

Darfur: UN-African Union force thwarts kidnapping attempt of women in Darfur

Troops from the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, tasked with protecting civilians and suppressing the bloody conflict in the region, have foiled an attempted abduction of several women who had strayed outside a makeshift camp in the war-torn western flank of Sudan.

A patrol from the hybrid force, known as UNAMID, was dispatched yesterday to the Hassa Hissa internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in West Darfur after being alerted that six women had been snatched while collecting firewood in nearby fields.

The kidnappers released the women when they saw the UNAMID team, made up of protection force personnel, police and military observers, approaching the scene.

The incident follows a series of violent incidents surrounding the Hassa Hissa camp last month, with the latest involving unidentified gunmen having shot dead the traditional leader or “sheikh” in the camp.

On 1 December, two Janjaweed militiamen, usually allied with Government forces, armed with a rifle quarrelled with IDPs at the camp, when one of the militiamen was severely beaten and later died and an IDP suffered a minor injury. The other militiaman was arrested and taken into custody by Sudanese police.

The following day a dozen armed men set ablaze a water pump and five generators supplying energy to Hassa Hissa, lightly injuring one IDP. Then, too, UNAMID sent an armed team to calm the tensions between the camp population and the militiamen.

An estimated 300,000 people have been killed since fighting erupted in Darfur in 2003 pitting Government troops and the Janjaweed against rebel forces, and 2.7 million others have been forced from their homes and now live as refugees or IDPs.

The Security Council has authorized 26,000 uniformed personnel, including military and police, for UNAMID. So far some 12,369 military personnel have been deployed out of the authorized 19,555. Senior UN officials have repeatedly called on countries to supply the remaining troops and equipment needed.

Source: UN News Centre
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
Putting principles before profits