After being granted access to investigate allegations of the mass rape of 200 women and girls in a town in North Darfur, Sudan, the African Union-United Nations hybrid mission said its team found no evidence confirming the claims and received no information regarding the purported acts.
In a statement, the hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) said after receiving access, its verification team – which included representatives from police, military and civilian components – spent several hours touring Tabit village and interviewed a range of residents to ascertain the veracity of media reports alleging the mass rapes.
Tabit residents interviewed by the UN included community leaders, ordinary men and women, teachers and students.
“None of those interviewed confirmed that any incident of rape took place in Tabit on the day of that media report,” UNAMID said in its statement.
“The team neither found any evidence nor received any information regarding media allegations during the period in question,” UNAMID added.
Further to the statement, village community leaders reiterated to UNAMID that they “co-exist peacefully” with local military authorities in the area. The team also interviewed the local Sudanese Armed Forces Commander.
UNAMID said it intends to conduct “further follow-up actions on the matter,” including possible additional investigations and patrols, in co-ordination with relevant host authorities and in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement between the Government of Sudan and UNAMID.
UNAMID expressed deep concern about the allegations of mass rapes in Tabit, 45 km south-west of El Fasher, in North Darfur, declaring it would conduct a thorough investigation into the veracity of the claims.
Tensions have been simmering across Darfur over 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 this year. The world body 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.