UNAMID deployed on Tuesday 26 March an inquiry team to its team site in Kass locality, South Darfur, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the recent arrest of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by an unidentified armed group at Arga checkpoint, in a border area between Central Darfur State and South Darfur State.
UNAMID investigation aims to ascertain all the facts surrounding this incident, including the identity of the perpetrators and their motives. The investigation comes after repeated efforts to access the incident area on 24 and 25 March.
On 24 March, the UNAMID-escorted convoy of three buses carrying 31 IDPs was stopped by an unidentified armed group in military uniforms onboard seven gun-mounted jeeps at Arga checkpoint. Immediately following the arrest of the IDPs, UNAMID commander on the ground requested a reinforcement patrol. While on its way to the incident site, the reinforcement patrol was stopped by the Sudanese military at Kass checkpoint, which prevented the peacekeepers from attempting to release the IDPs.
On 25 March, another UNAMID verification patrol proceeded to the abduction site and was again denied access by government personnel at Kass checkpoint.
While the investigation team reached UNAMID team site in Kass locality on 26 March, a verification patrol succeeded in making its way to the incident site as well. More information will be conveyed as it becomes available.
The Arga checkpoint incident is another indication of the amount of risks that UNAMID peacekeepers have to operate in across Darfur, including the risk of ambush, armed attacks, abduction, killing or looting.
The incident is also another example of how access restrictions have affected the Mission’s work in several crucial ways. According to the Status of Forces Agreement that was signed by the Government of Sudan and UNAMID on 9 February 2008, the Mission peacekeepers don’t need clearance from the Government for their land movements in Darfur. The Agreement grants the Mission full access to all parts of Darfur.
While UNAMID doesn’t need permission, it certainly coordinates its movements with the government authorities as well as with the armed movements operating in the areas visited by the Mission.