Tuesday, November 11, 2014 12:03 am
A UN mission said Monday it has found no evidence Sudanese troops had raped 200 women and girls in the Darfur region, where insurgents are battling government forces.
Local media reported soldiers entered Tabit in North Darfur after one of their troops went missing last month and raped 200 women and girls.
Sudanese troops denied peacekeepers access to the area last week, but the United Nations said a patrol reached Tabit on Sunday, spending several hours interviewing residents.
“The team neither found any evidence nor received any information regarding the media allegations,” the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said in a statement.
“None of those interviewed confirmed that any incident of rape took place in Tabit on the day of that media report”.
The UN Security Council was told during a meeting in New York that there was a heavy Sudanese military presence during the mission’s visit to the camp, raising concerns about the mission’s conclusion.
The UN envoy on sexual violence, Zainab Hawa Bengura, told the council that “while the rape allegations remained unverified, it was not possible to conclude that no sexual violence took place,” said Australian Ambassador Gary Quinlan.
There are concerns that a “wall of silence was created” to intimidate and stoke fear of reprisals among the alleged rape victims, said Quinlan, whose country chairs the council this month.
UNAMID said the patrol had talked to residents, community leaders and the commander of the Sudanese army garrison in Tabit.
It said it planned to follow up the visit with “possible further investigations and patrols” in the area.
The Sudanese army said on Sunday that the media reports were “unjustified and unreasonable”.
Ethnic insurgents rebelled against Khartoum Arab-dominated government 11 years ago, complaining of marginalisation.
The UN says 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and more than two million displaced since 2003.
President Omar al-Bashir, 70, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
In recent months, a rise in criminality and disputes between Arab tribes over resources have seen the security situation in the region deteriorate.