Darfur Wali (Governor) and former rebel leader Minni Minawi has pledged to recover all property looted from the former United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) headquarters in El Fasher, as well as the goods looted from warehouses of the World Food Programme (WFP) on December 29, and apologised to the international organisations.
In statements upon his arrival in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur on Wednesday, Minawi expressed his regret over the looting incidents that targeted the UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher and the warehouses of the WFP. “We do not accuse the citizens of these incidents, but rather ourselves,” Minawi said.
He said that “the parties that carried out the events are known and we do not want to name them”. Minawi explained that they held a meeting with the state security committee, during which they demanded that all the looted property be returned to the police.
On Wednesday, the Sudanese Professionals Association in North Darfur organised a protest sit-in at Freedom Square in El Fasher, denouncing the looting of UNAMID property. The participants in the vigil held the North Darfur Security Committee and the rebel forces responsible.
They explained that the looting took place despite the imposed curfew and demanded the dismissal of the governor of the Darfur region and the governor of North Darfur, the removal of the military forces from the city, and the lifting of the curfew. It also called for the formation of an independent investigation committee into the events.
The Sudan Liberation Forces rebel alliance headed by El Taher Hajar, now a member of the Sovereignty Council, denied that its forces of participated in the looting.
In a statement, the former rebel faction called for the formation of a fact-finding committee that includes all the security services, the existing forces, and the local El Fasher resistance committees. The statement said that the forces of the assembly were unable to control the groups carrying out the looting due to the lack of full powers.
The alliance explained that the State Security Committee did not issue any directives to resolve the intrusions into the UN headquarters and pointed out that the absence of security arrangements and the lack of formation of the joint forces is the main reason for the events. The former rebel group holds the state government, the security committee, and the state governor fully responsible.
On Monday evening and on Tuesday, a group allegedly consisting of members of government forces and former rebels reportedly looted all remaining assets of the UNAMID mission from its former headquarters in the North Darfur capital. Well-informed sources confirm the theft of four-wheel drive vehicles, lorries, equipment, and various other devices, by a large group of army soldiers, paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), policemen, former rebel combatants, and residents of the city. The base has been cleared of everything that was left after it initially was plundered on December 24-25.
As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, implementing the security arrangements for the Darfur movements with a ‘joint force’ was launched by Sudan’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Lt Gen Khaled El Shami, at the former headquarters of UNAMID mission in El Fasher on Monday.
The ongoing insecurity in Darfur, often partly exacerbated by the vacuum created by the UNAMID drawdown, has meant that the practicalities of the handover of UNAMID sites and facilities have not always gone as planned.
On June 5, two people were killed and eight others sustained injuries when a former UNAMID site in Shangil Tobaya, Dar El Salaam locality, south of El Fasher in North Darfur was looted.
The site was handed over to the Government of Sudan on May 25. It was the last of 14 deep field sites handed over to the Sudanese government. At the time, the North Darfur government and the Sudanese government’s joint task force strongly reconfirmed their commitment to ensure civilian use of the former site.
Since the mission ended its mandate at the end of last year, various former UNAMID sites handed over to local authorities to be used as schools or training centres, have been looted. In February, a site in North Darfur’s Saraf Omra that was earmarked for use as a vocational training centre was looted and ‘levelled’ just weeks after it was handed over to the Sudanese government.