A Unamid mission verifying reports of civilian casualties during intense fighting was initially barred from entering Kabkabiya in North Darfur. “They were not allowed to speak to residents.”
Witnesses in the area told this radio station that Sudanese forces, including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), sent away a mission of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (Unamid) up to three times from Misteriya before allowing it to enter on Wednesday.
The attempted visit comes more than a week after the area witnessed heavy clashes between the RSF and local militias that answer to militia leader Sheikh Musa Hilal on 26 November.
The RSF accompanied the Unamid mission on its inspection of specific areas, but “prevented them from interviewing or talking to residents”, according to a source. “The RSF has hidden traces of fire and destruction that had taken place in the town. The mission returned the same day, hours later.”
The Sudanese military intelligence had given permission to the Unamid team after the Sudanese security service refused their entry to Misteriya.
Last week, militia leader Musa Hilal, his sons and a number of his aides were captured during heavy clashes between the RSF and Hilal’s militias known as the Border Guards, in Misteriya. State Minister of Defence Ali Mohamed Salim has denied claims that more than one civilian was killed or hurt in the fighting. He confirmed that a child was killed by a stray bullet during the crossfire.
Fourteen members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were killed, the minister reported, and eight members of Musa Hilal's Revolutionary Awakening Council died.
Last week UNICEF Resident Representative Abdallah Fadil said that a UN delegation would be sent to Misteriya to find out the situation resulting from the clashes in the area and conduct a field investigation. Fadil: “We would investigate the violations against the civilians and children there, certainly there are children.”
Sudanese opposition parties aligned under the umbrella of the Sudan Appeal also called for a transparent, international investigation into the recent clashes, in a press statement released yesterday.
The UN-AU peacekeeping mission is withdrawing from the Darfur region and it completed the first phase of withdrawal in October. Sudanese authorities began to push for the exit of the UN-AU peacekeeping mission from Darfur, after Unamid officials urged an investigation into a mass rape in North Darfur’s Tabit on 31 October, 2014. Security authorities at the time also barred the investigative team from the site where the incident allegedly took place.