Sudanese authorities conduct raid on Darfur IDP camp
Monday, January 24, 2011
January 23, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The joint African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said today that Sudanese authorities conducted a raid on a camp housing Internally Displaced People (IDP) to search for weapons and other illegal items.
||UNAMID said that the raid on Zamzam camp, located on the outskirts of North Darfur capital, violated the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) requiring notification and consultations prior to any actions regarding IDP camps.
Because of this incident "the senior leadership of the Mission urgently contacted Government security officials and the Wali [Governor] of North Darfur to address the matter".
The peacekeeping force said that the authorities informed them of their plans only "three hours after they were set in motion".
In August 2008 a similar operation was conducted on Kalma camp in South Darfur that led to the death of 30 people drawing strong criticism from UNAMID and the international community.
A UN reports afterward placed blame on Sudanese authorities for excessive use of force.
Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir at the time defended the raid and claimed that UNAMID agreed to it but later backtracked on their consent.
The statement by UNAMID said that parts of the camp were cordoned off starting at 6 am by a combined Sudanese Military/Police force in as many as 100 vehicles.
UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari called on the authorities "to act with the utmost restraint, particularly with regard to the use of force, and ensure that no one is harmed".
He instructed that the mission "rapidly dispatch an integrated team of its civilian, police and military personnel, joined by an inter-agency assessment group led by OCHA and UNHCR, to the camp to ensure that the safety and the rights of the community were respected".
"A UNAMID patrol and team were initially denied access for security reasons, but were eventually allowed to proceed," the statement added.
"The operation resulted, as reported by Government authorities to UNAMID, in the arrest of 37 individuals, for reasons unknown, the impounding of ten 4x4 vehicles, the seizure of three assault rifle magazines, unspecified quantities of ammunitions, and suspected stolen goods and illegal substances,".
"The teams reported that, although the atmosphere was tense and the IDPs apprehensive, no shots were fired and no violence, harassment or destruction/theft of property took place".
The Sudanese Media Center (SMC) website which is widely believed to be run by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) confirmed the raid saying they put their hands on fuel tanks that were to be passed through to Darfur rebel groups as well as detaining fugitives and criminals.
An unnamed official in North Darfur told SMC that the camp was a base for the Sudan Liberation Army faction led by Minni Minnawi which imposed levies and established in-house courts to prosecute cases based on personal differences and tribal considerations.
He further said that a display would be erected in El-Fasher on Monday to show the items seized from the camp.
Critics, IDP’s and rebel groups say that UNAMID has been practically unable to carry out their mandate effectively for being in constant fear of angering Khartoum.
This month a coalition of human rights and advocacy groups urged the UN Security Council to insist on regular public reports on the humanitarian and human rights situation in Darfur to monitor the situation on the ground adequately.
The groups said that the UN human rights office has not issued public reports on human rights issues in Darfur for two years and that the UN humanitarian coordination office stopped publishing humanitarian needs profiles for Darfur in late 2009.