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Sudan Leaks: Unamid spokesperson 'resigned to tell the truth about Darfur'

April 9 - 2014 RADIO DABANGA

A former spokeswoman for the UN African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid), who resigned from the peacekeeping Mission in Darfur last year, has revealed that her main reason for stepping down was the Mission’s reluctance “to tell the truth about what happens in Darfur”. Conversely, she says, it covers-up crimes committed by government forces and the militias popularly known as Janjaweed, who are officially affiliated with the Sudanese government, as well as other crimes committed by rebel factions and criminal elements in the region.

In an extensive interview with Radio Dabanga, Aicha El Basri said that the Mission “does not want to tell the truth”, contending that “it avoids honest reporting on the events in Darfur because this would reveal the failure and weakness of the Mission”.

She contends that “Unamid is aware of the extent to which the Sudanese government and allied militias have attacked, burned and bombed villages and camps of for the displaced. The UN Security Council (UNSC ) also knows that the mission does not have the ability to protect the two million displaced people in Darfur, let alone the entire population”.

She also asserts that the Mission was “exposed to hostile attacks and harassed all the time by the Sudanese government, which is supposed to be protecting them”. She questioned how Unamid could be considered to fall under the protection of the Sudanese government, while at the same time, having a mandate to protect civilians against that same government.

El Basri further stated that “the cover-up of what is happening in Darfur by the UN Secretary General, the Peacekeeping Department, some UN agencies operating in Sudan, and top officials of Unamid is a major problem”.

She cited, for example, the claim by former Unamid chief Rudolph Adada that the war was over in Darfur, while conflict was still raging in the region. The same point has been made by his successor, Ibrahim Gambari, who claimed that the situation had improved and that peace was on the way in Darfur. El Basri affirms that all these statements were false, and did not reflect the real situation on the ground.

According to the former spokeswoman, the Mission observes government forces indiscriminately bombing entire villages, targeting civilian and military targets alike. However these observations are never publically reported in the regular updates by the UN Secretary General to the UNSC.

“Part of the reason for the silence on the part of the peacekeeping Mission is that they fear they might be expelled from Darfur by the government,” says El Basri.

She called on the people of Darfur to direct their voices to the UNSC because it is responsible for Unamid and its mandate, and for reviewing of its performance. She noted in this regard that “the Security Council has recently demanded a review of the Mission’s performance”.

Photo: Khor Abeche camp in South Darfur, 26 March 2014

Related: Sudan Leaks: ‘UN withheld key information on ethnic cleansing in Darfur’ (7 April 2014)

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