UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Sudanese troops denied U.N. and African Union peacekeepers access to a town in the country’s western Darfur region to investigate reports of an alleged mass rape of some 200 women and girls, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
The joint peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID, is “deeply concerned” about reports of attacks in Tabit, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
“A verification patrol was denied access to Tabit, in North Darfur, by Sudanese military at a checkpoint,” Dujarric said.
He said a UNAMID team had then traveled to the Zamzam camp for displaced people on Wednesday to assess whether anyone had arrived from Tabit.
“Following a thorough assessment and interaction with residents and community leaders in the Zamzam area, the team concluded that no recent displacement from Tabit had occurred,” Dujarric said.
“Also, as part of the investigation, UNAMID’s human rights officers have met with the chief prosecutor of North Darfur, who said that not a single complaint about any rape incident was received from Tabit,” he said.
Law and order have collapsed in much of Darfur, where mainly African tribes took up arms in 2003 against the Arab-led government in Khartoum, which they accused of discriminating against them. UNAMID has been deployed in the region since 2007.
Last month, an internal U.N. review found that UNAMID had failed to provide U.N. headquarters in New York with full reports on attacks against civilians and peacekeepers. The review had been ordered in response to media reports alleging that UNAMID intentionally covered up details of deadly attacks. [ID:nL1N0SO1S6]
The conflict in Darfur has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced 2 million, according to the United Nations.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Jonathan Oatis