UN says Darfur mission withheld details

2014-10-29 21:16
Peacekeepers of the United Nations-African Union Joint Mission in Darfur (Unamid) keep watch in the South Darfur capital Nyala. (Ashraf Shazly, AFP)

Peacekeepers of the United Nations-African Union Joint Mission in Darfur (Unamid) keep watch in the South Darfur capital Nyala. (Ashraf Shazly, AFP) (Ashraf Shazly)

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New Tork - The UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Sudan's western Darfur region failed to provide UN headquarters with full reports on attacks against civilians and peacekeepers in the conflict-torn territory, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

The statement, by UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, was based on an internal UN review ordered in response to media reports alleging that the mission in Darfur, known as Unamid, had intentionally covered up details of deadly attacks.

"The review team did not find any evidence to support these allegations," Dujarric said. "However, it did find a tendency to under-report unless absolutely certain of the facts."

"In five of the cases examined, the mission did not provide UN headquarters with full reports on the circumstances surrounding these incidents, which involved possible wrongdoing by government or pro-government forces," he added.

He said Unamid took an overly conservative approach in talking with the media, maintaining silence when it could have provided reporters with information.

"The secretary-general [Ban Ki-moon] is deeply troubled by these findings," Dujarric said. "He recognizes that Unamid faces unique challenges owing to its complex mandate and operating environment."

"Nevertheless, keeping silent or under-reporting on incidents involving human rights violations and threats or attacks on UN peacekeepers cannot be condoned under any circumstances," he said, adding that Ban will seek to ensure full and accurate reporting by Unamid in the future.

Joint missions bad

Unamid has been the focus of criticism for some time. A senior UN Security Council diplomat recently referred to it as one of the worst missions the United Nations is involved with and proof that joint UN-African Union missions are a bad idea.

In April, the Security Council rebuked Unamid and urged it "to move to a more preventive and pre-emptive posture in pursuit of its priorities and in active defence of its mandate" to protect civilians. At that time, hundreds of thousands of civilians were fleeing a sudden spike in violence.

Law and order have collapsed in much of Darfur, where mainly African tribes took up arms in 2003 against the Arab-led government in Khartoum, which they accused of discriminating against them.

Unamid has been deployed in the region since 2007. During that time almost 170 of its troops and police have been killed.

There are 14 500 troops and 4 500 police on the ground. The conflict in Darfur has killed as many as 300 000 people and displaced 2 million, according to the United Nations.

Read more on:    unamid  |  ban ki-moon  |  sudan  |  east africa

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