North Sudan army threaten UN in Darfur

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Sudan’s army have waged war on United Nations peacekeepers in Darfur.

This comes after the United States led calls for the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission to be more “aggressive” in protecting civilians. The Sudanese army threatened to “burn to the ground” makeshift refugee camps.

According to reports, around 200 Sudanese soldiers confronted UN peacekeepers UNAMID at their camp in Shangil Tobay, in North Darfur, The peacekeeping troops had just returned to their camp after unsuccessfully trying to carry out a verification mission in Tabit, the scene of heavy fighting between government forces and rebels earlier this week.

“The commander said he was going to burn down all the makeshift camps in the area if the peacekeepers don’t stop interfering in the government’s internal affairs, The peacekeepers stood their ground, and eventually the army left. Unfortunately, when they left, they arrested or snatched… four refugees,” a UNAMID source told AFP.

UNAMID says 88% of its total 26,000 strength is finding its peacekeeping job difficult to do in the absence of a peace deal between Khartoum and rebels who took up arms in 2003.

Joint special representative of U.N.-African Union peacekeepers in Darfur (UNAMID) Ibrahim Gambari insist that Khartoum which reluctantly agreed to the presence of UN forces in Darfur has been placing obstacles and impediments to the deployment of troops and helicopters as well as delay in granting visas to members of the mission.

However, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said she welcomed the decision to let Sudanese rebel and government forces know that UNAMID would not be asking for their permission when seeking access to areas in Darfur. But she said the approach needed to be consistently applied.

“We expect UNAMID, as one of the UN’s largest and most costly operations, with one of the most robust mandates passed by this Council, to be very active and, when necessary, aggressive, in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians. This has to be consistent; It has to be uniform. It’s not subject to negotiation,” Rice was quoted as saying.

Analysts say the confrontations are a direct response to the United States’ calls for the UNAMID peacekeepers to be more assertive in fulfilling their mandate in Darfur, after talks at the UN Security Council.

Gambari added that the blockades are also a hindrance to the efforts of aid agencies seeking access to scenes of recent fighting.

More than 43,000 people have fled their homes since December as renewed fighting between the Sudanese army and Darfur rebels continue, UNAMID has estimated.

Over 300,000 people have died since non-Arab rebels first rose up against the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum in 2003.

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