Sudan summons UNAMID head over 'mass rape' report
KHARTOUM - Agence France-Presse
AFP PhotoSudan summoned the head of the UN-African Mission in Darfur Nov. 14 over reports government troops had carried out a mass rape in the war-torn region, a foreign ministry official said.
UNAMID said in an internal report this week that the Sudanese military had sought to intimidate villagers to suppress allegations that more than 200 women and girls were raped.
It has reported finding no evidence of last month's alleged rape during a visit to the area.
"We summoned the chief of UNAMID to clarify the situation and I told him the general prosecutor in Darfur is carrying out an investigation" into the rape claims and the source of the reports, said Abdullah al-Azraq, under-secretary for the foreign minister.
The Sudanese government has repeatedly denied its troops carried out the alleged rapes.
UNAMID did not comment on whether its acting head Abiodun Oluremi Bashua had been summoned.
Azraq said once the government had completed its inquiry, it would "take a decision which will reach anyone the investigation shows has made a mistake in this matter".
A first team of UNAMID monitors was sent to the area of the alleged rape in Tabit in North Darfur on November 4, but the Sudanese military blocked them on the outskirts of the village.
Upon arriving at the village five days later, the team found there was a heavy presence of Sudanese soldiers who followed the monitors and recorded the interviews with the villagers, according to the UNAMID report obtained by AFP.
Azraq confirmed Sudanese forces were present but said they were there to "protect" the peacekeepers and "to create a suitable environment to help UNAMID to do its mission".
The joint UN-AU mission deployed to Darfur in 2007 to protect civilians and secure humanitarian aid.
Last month an investigation by the UN criticised the mission for under-reporting crimes in the region.
More than 300,000 people have been killed in some 11 years of conflict in the region, with another two million displaced, according to the UN.