A United Nations peacekeeper serving in Sudan’s besieged Darfur region was killed, and another injured, in an attack on Sunday. The Bangladeshi peacekeeper, who was a member of Bangladesh’s Formed Police Unit, was fatally shot when an unidentified gang surrounded and fired at the staff in Nyala, the state capital of South Darfur, at the mission’s policing center in a camp for internally displaced persons.
The armed gang surrounded the community and began shooting around 3:15 a.m. The men fled the scene after the police unit began to return fire. A representative for the joint African Union-United Nations Mission (UNAMID)called the attacks cowardly and deplorable, and stressed that the act constituted a war crime under international law. The Sudanese government has been called on to make a serious effort to apprehend the culprits and provide justice for the soldier’s death.
Darfur has been plagued with violence for nearly a decade. International aid workers and UNAMID personnel have been the targets of frequent attacks and kidnappings in recent years. Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudan’s defense minister for over 40 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in the region. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is also wanted for similar crimes in connection with the conflict. Earlier this year, the UNAMID reported a drop in civilian casualties in Darfur between 2010 and 2011, but admitted that there has recently been an increase in criminal activity.
The UNAMID is responsible for protecting civilians, promoting an inclusive peace process, and helping ensure safe delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout Darfur. Members of the joint mission have been the targets of several deadly attacks and 38 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of the hostility. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has extended the mandate of the UNAMID peacekeeping force in Darfur for one more year. Personnel serving with the mission will be reconfigured to focus on the areas with the highest security threats. As a result, it will include over 16,000 military personnel, 2,000 police personnel, and 17 formed police units of up to 140 personnel each. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon supported the mandate, stating that the new force will be better equipped and more readily available to address emerging threats.
Rebels in Darfur took up arms in 2003, accusing President al-Bashier’s government of neglecting the region. The conflict has led to illness and starvation in the region which has contributed to as many as 300,000 deaths and about 2.7 million people being forced to leave their homes.
Aiden Kramer is a third year law student at DU and the Executive Editor of The View From Above.