UN calls for all arrested staff in Sudan to be released

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The United Nations has called on Sudan’s government to release its staff members that were arrested in South Kordofan on Wednesday. Two were released the following day but the other four remain in custody. It is not clear why they were arrested.

While the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) welcomed the release of the two UN workers, it called for the others be released immediately.

The six were preparing to depart from the airport in Kadugli, the main town in Southern Kordofan, to the Southern Sudanese town of Wau as part of the peacekeeping mission’s relocation of staff due to fighting between the northern army known as the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) of Southern Sudan.

In an earlier statement issued to the press, UNMIS noted that, in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed by the Sudanese government and the mission, the Sudanese government is obliged to present the head of the mission with evidence prior to taking any legal action against any UNMIS staff member, national or international, including arresting them.
“UNMIS calls on the parties to respect the SOFA, and uphold their commitment to protect civilians and ensure the freedom of movement for all UN staff, regardless of their origin, or ethnic and political affiliations,” the mission said in a statement.
“UNMIS is very concerned about the safety and security of its staff members and requests their immediate release until evidence of any illegal activities is presented by the local authorities to UNMIS,” the statement added.

It added that the temporary detention and abuse of four peacekeepers two weeks ago and the arrest of national staff members constitute “clear and disturbing” violations of the SOFA.
“UNMIS calls on the parties to respect the SOFA, and uphold their commitment to protect civilians and ensure the freedom of movement for all UN staff, regardless of their origin, or ethnic and political affiliations,” the statement added.

The violence that began on June 5 in Southern Kordofan has displaced an estimated 73 000 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Senior UN officials have repeatedly called for an end to insecurity and movement restrictions, which are continuing to limit the ability of humanitarian personnel to assess the situation and to provide urgently needed assistance to those affected, as well as to the threats to aid workers and peacekeepers in the area.



The latest fighting comes as the semi-autonomous region of Southern Sudan prepares to become an independent State on July 9, after a referendum held at the start of this year in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the long-running north-south civil war.