AU-UN force take part in ceremony aimed at reducing ethnic tensions

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The joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur has participated in a reconciliation ceremony in the north of the region that is aimed at halting a spate of recent inter-tribal clashes that have killed at least two dozen people.
Tensions have increased around the town of Shangil Tobaya after a member of the Tengur tribe was killed by Zaghawa men during their clashes with Birgid tribesmen last week, according to information released by the peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID.
Yesterday UNAMID military officials, joined by a mediation committee of umdahs (local leaders) and a general from the Minni Minawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), met with community leaders from local tribes to urge them to exercise restraint.
After the talks the Zaghawas apologized for the killing and a peace agreement was signed by the two tribes to avert the threat of possible reprisals or the Tengurs joining forces with the Birgids to launch future attacks on the Zaghawas.
UNAMID has attributed the recent fighting to disputes over access to water, a particularly precious commodity in Darfur, an arid and landlocked region.
The mission sent an assessment team to the area last week comprising military officers, police officers and humanitarian, human rights, security, civil affairs and protection officials.
UNAMID has been in place across Darfur since the start of last year to try to quell the fighting and humanitarian suffering that has engulfed the region since 2003.

At least 300 000 people are estimated to have died from the conflict and another 2.7 million people remain displaced from their homes.



Pic: AU peacekeepers