Sudan has shut the human rights office of the Unamid peacekeeping mission, the foreign ministry said, amid tension over allegations of mass rape by Sudanese troops in Tabit.
On Tuesday, Unamid confirmed that it had received a formal closure request from the Sudanese government on Sunday, but said it was working with authorities to “clarify the role” of its Khartoum-based human rights and liaison offices, according to reporting by Reuters.
Sudan announced on Friday it had asked Unamid to prepare an exit plan, days after denying it permission to make a second visit to the site of the alleged assaults in Darfur.
Sudan initially refused to let Unamid visit the village of Tabit at all but later granted it access. Unamid found no evidence of allegations that Sudanese troops had raped about 200 women and girls. But Unamid said on 10 November that it was concerned about the heavy military presence during interviews with alleged victims.
The foreign ministry said Sudanese authorities had closed Unamid’s human rights office in Khartoum, accusing the mission of violating its mandate by opening the bureau outside Darfur.
“This step is not an escalation on our part or a restriction because of the spreading of false allegations about a mass rape in Tabit, Darfur, but we are trying to return … Unamid to its mandate,” senior ministry official Abdallah El Azraq told Reuters.
Unamid said the human rights section was part of its Liaison Office in Khartoum, which plays a central role in connecting the Darfur mission with the government and other organisations, and had been operating since the mission’s inception in 2007.
File photo by Owies Elfaki / Unamid
Darfur displaced concerned about Unamid exit, demand replacement (24 November 2014)
Sudan: ‘Exit Unamid not owing to mass rape investigation’ (21 November 2014)