UN slams Sudan protesters for attacks on Darfur premises

Sudanese forces are deployed around Khartoum’s army headquarters on June 3 as they try to disperse Khartoum’s sit-in. (AFP pic)

KHARTOUM: UN peacekeepers said Friday that a group of protesters looted and destroyed several properties of the World Food Programme and aid agency World Vision in Sudan’s war-torn region of Darfur this week.

The “dangerous attacks” were carried out on June 19 and 20 in the town of Graida in the state of South Darfur, the joint African Union and UN peacekeeping mission, also known as UNAMID, said in a statement.

It said the mission is “deeply concerned about the looting and destruction of premises and property belonging to the World Vision and World Food Programme”.

Protesters ransacked the offices of the two agencies, stole money and damaged vehicles, the statement said without detailing what the group was demonstrating about.

“This behaviour is totally unacceptable, especially the looting and destruction of humanitarian property causing serious disruption to the work of humanitarians providing lifesaving assistance to the most vulnerable people of Graida,” Gwi-Yeop Son, UN chief for Sudan said in the statement.

UNAMID chief Jeremiah Mamabolo decried the limited support given to the UN “in the face of such dangerous attacks that inevitably place the lives of its staff and local citizenry at risk in Sudan.”

This week’s attacks in Graida come just weeks after a similar incident in El-Genina in the state of West Darfur, the statement said.

“Such wanton destruction of UN property and assets cannot continue with impunity,” Mamabolo said, adding that it was the responsibility of Sudanese authorities to protect all UN staff and its properties inside the country.

The UN peacekeepers have been deployed in Darfur since 2007 after a brutal conflict erupted in the region four years earlier.

Darfur’s ethnic African rebels took up arms against the then Arab-dominated government of now ousted leader Omar al-Bashir, accusing it of marginalising the region economically and politically.

The United Nations says the conflict has left more than 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced.

Bashir, who is now held in a prison in Kober, has been charged by the Hague-based International Criminal Court with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the conflict. He denies the charges.

Over the years the violence in Darfur has subsided and the peacekeeping mission too has been downsized.