News24

Sudan sets travel controls on Unamid

2010-07-31 14:10

Khartoum - Sudan said on Saturday it would monitor travel by UN/African Union peacekeepers in Darfur - a day after the UN Security Council extended the force's mandate and told Khartoum to stop hindering its work.

The government has been hostile to the Unamid peacekeepers ever since they began to deploy in 2007, and relations worsened after the International Criminal Court indicted the Sudanese president for war crimes, and more recently genocide, in Darfur.

Peace talks between Khartoum and the rebels are under way in Qatar but have been boycotted by the two main rebel groups, and eight people were killed this week in a surge of violence in refugee camps between supporters and opponents of the talks.

The UN Security Council extended Unamid's mandate on Friday for a further year and ordered it to give priority to protecting civilians and ensuring free humanitarian access to refugees.

Senior information ministry official Rabie Abdelati accused Unamid on Saturday of failing to halt the violence in the camps and harbouring instigators of the fighting, and said the force must in future inform the government of all travel plans.

"Unamid has not done its job at all - there was shooting, burning, people died and all they did was watch," Abdelati told Reuters. He was in South Darfur this week when the fighting between refugee groups broke out.

"The governor of South Darfur told Unamid they should either do their job (in Kalma refugee camp) or get out and let the government take over," he said.

Unamid staff will have their bags searched at the airport and they will have to inform the government before moving on roads even within South Darfur's capital Nyala, he said.

"Unamid should adhere to all the normal procedures of the country and respect its sovereignty," said Abdelati. "All movement should be in clear co-ordination with us and no activities should happen without the government's knowledge."

He also said the UN peacekeepers were sheltering people he accused of stirring up trouble in one camp. "The governor is demanding that these five criminals be handed over within ... 48 hours," he said.

Unamid declined to comment, but it said last week that five local leaders had sought refuge in its police base in Kalma camp, home to 100 000 refugees. It was not clear if these are the men wanted by the government.

Five people were killed in Kalma camp in South Darfur and three in Zalingei camp in West Darfur this week in fighting between refugee groups, and dozens were injured.

Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in the desert region of western Sudan in 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglect. Mostly Arab militias backed by Khartoum carried out a campaign to crush them that created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

U.N. officials say up to 300,000 Darfuris have died, Khartoum puts the death toll at up to 10 000, and about two million people have fled their homes for huge refugee camps.

Despite the world's largest humanitarian operation and the presence of some 21 700 Unamid troops and police, law and order has largely collapsed in Darfur. Peacekeepers are regularly ambushed and foreigners kidnapped.