By Jennifer M. Haralambides
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
DARFUR, Sudan – Two civilians working with the joint UN-African Union (UNAMID) peacekeeping mission in Darfur went missing after a raid on their residences. Sources say they were kidnapped at gunpoint.
Noureddine Menzi, a spokesman for the United Nations-African Union (UNAU) peacekeeping forces, said that early Saturday morning a gunmen stormed into the town of Zalingei and seized a man and a woman. He says this is the first kidnapping of staff members who work for the peacekeeping force. The nationality of the hostages or there captors is still yet to be verified, although sources close to the case say the man was Nigerian and the woman was a Zimbabwean.
Abdel Wahid al-Nur, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), lives in Zalingei. SLM is one of Darfur’s main rebel groups responsible for contributing to the violence in the region. Al-Nur, criticized the kidnapping and also denied that the SLM was involved in any way. He said it showed the weakness of the peacekeeping mission.
The UN-AU force has contacted the kidnappers, and the outgoing political chief, Rodolphe Adada, has appealed for the release of the captives. Sources say that Adada had previously angered Western diplomats by calling the situation in Darfur, “a low-intensity conflict.”
Human rights groups describe the situation in Darfur as genocide. The UN puts the death toll up to 300,000 over the six years of fighting between rebel groups and government forces. Clashes between rival ethnic groups break out frequently in Sudan, and the UN says at least 1,000 people have been killed in the wake of inter-tribal violence this year alone.
For more information, please see:
AFP – Darfur Peacekeepers Say 2 Civilians Kidnapped – 29 August 2009
AP – Darfur Peacekeepers Say 2 Civilians Kidnapped – 29 August 2009
BBC – Two Peacekeepers Seized in Sudan – 29 August 2009
VOA – Peacekeepers Kidnapped in Sudan – 29 August 2009