06 March 2010 - UNAMID patrol on assessment mission ambushed Jebel Marra, South Darfur
UNAMID PR / 012-2010
El Fasher, 06 March 2010 – Following reports of armed clashes in the Jebel Marra region of South Darfur which indicated the possibility of casualties and displacement of civilian population, on 5 March UNAMID launched an assessment patrol to Deribat, the largest locality in the area, to evaluate the security and humanitarian situation there and to pave the way for the provision of humanitarian emergency relief. The patrol was composed of Force Protection elements, Military Observers and UNAMID Police.
This zone has, for a long time, been inaccessible to UNAMID, primarily because of the dangerous security situation prevailing and of the systematic obstruction of UNAMID patrols and humanitarian assessment missions by belligerents operating in the area, notably the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) movement which claims control over it.
Although the Mission had received assurances by belligerents that the UNAMID patrol could carry out its task, it was ambushed by a large group of unidentified armed men. The peacekeepers and their vehicles, among them three Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), were seized and taken to an unknown location. They were later released in the early hours of today along with their APCs, but all other vehicles and equipment were kept by the attackers. Two peacekeepers are still unaccounted for and listed as missing.
UNAMID is exerting all efforts and is mounting a search and rescue operation to ensure the safe and swift return of its missing soldiers and of its vehicles and equipment. Contacts to this effect are on-going with all parties operating in the area and with the Government of Sudan authorities.
UNAMID strongly condemns this unprovoked attack on its peacekeepers who were carrying out an important security and humanitarian mission for the benefit of the people of Jebel Marra.
Such acts of aggression ultimately affect the population of Darfur who should not be held hostage by anyone, be it for political or propaganda purposes, and peacekeepers should therefore be able to freely perform their duties. UNAMID is undeterred and will continue to work with all parties toward the cessation of hostilities and provision of unrestricted access for humanitarian relief.
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