The UN Security Council on Wednesday voiced its concern at the allegations reported in the media of mass rape in late October of 200 women and girls in Thabit, North Darfur, and called for “a thorough investigation into these allegations.”
A statement, issued to the press here by the 15-nation UN body, said the Security Council “called on the government of Sudan to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations.”
The Council members also called on the government of Sudan to ” fulfill its obligation to allow, in accordance with the Agreement between the UN, the African Union and the government of Sudan concerning the status of the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the full and unrestricted freedom of movement without delay throughout Darfur to UNAMID, so as to enable them to conduct a full and transparent investigation, without interference, and verify whether these incidents have occurred,” the statement said.
“They further called on the government of Sudan to ensure accountability, if the allegations are verified,” the statement said. “They noted that proper access to Thabit and its population for UNAMID is essential to conducting a full investigation into the allegations in order to determine their veracity and, if verified, to ensure accountability.”
On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply troubled” by the persistent allegations, and urged Sudanese government officials to grant unfettered access to the town so that investigators can verify the reports.
UN spokesperson Farhan Haq subsequently announced that UNAMID had again asked for access to Thabit and will deploy a team immediately, once such access has been granted.
UNAMID first visited Thabit, which is located 45 kilometers southwest of El Fasher, in North Darfur, on Nov. 9, after declaring that it would conduct an investigation into the veracity of the claims.
However, the heavy presence of military and police in Thabit made a conclusive investigation difficult.
Tensions have been simmering across Darfur throughout the past few months. In October, an attack on UNAMID peacekeepers by armed militants claimed the lives of three peacekeepers.
The UN estimates that some 385,000 people have been displaced by the conflict between the government of Sudan and armed movements in Darfur since the start of 2014.
The United Nations has repeatedly called on all sides to join negotiations aimed at achieving a permanent ceasefire and comprehensive peace for the people of Darfur, which has witnessed fighting since 2003.
UNAMID, formally established in 2007, has been mandated to protect civilians, support humanitarian assistance, monitor and verify implementation of agreements, contribute to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law, and assist in the political reconciliation following the 2003 civil war between the government of Sudan and militias and other armed rebel groups.