British government ’strongly condemns’ the kidnapping of two peacekeepers in Darfur

August 17th, 2010 - 5:12 pm ICT by BNO News  

NYALA, SOUTH DARFUR (BNO NEWS) — The British government on Tuesday ’strongly condemned’ the kidnapping of two Jordanian United Nations-African Union peacekeepers in South Darfur last weekend.

The police advisors with the African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) were abducted around 7.55 a.m. local time on Saturday, according to the mission. They were kidnapped in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur in the western part of Sudan.

The officers, who had been walking to a UNAMID transport dispatch point, were about 100 meters (109 yards) from their residence in the city’s Almatar area when they were blocked by three unidentified individuals inside a vehicle. “The perpetrators seized the peacekeepers at gunpoint and sped off,” the mission said in a statement on Saturday.

The British government released a statement on Tuesday in which it called for the ‘immediate and unconditional release’ of the two workers. “The threat of kidnappings continues to hamper humanitarian assistance in Darfur, and we call on all parties, including the Government of Sudan, to send a clear signal that such acts cannot be tolerated,” the statement read. “The perpetrators of such unacceptable acts must be brought to justice.”

The British government said it is also ‘deeply concerned’ about the ‘fragile security’ and humanitarian situation in Kalma Camp in South Darfur, where the delivery of humanitarian aid has been obstructed for two weeks. “This has created an unacceptable situation,” Britain said.

During the weekend, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp was hit by sporadic gunfire and fuel stores in the camp have been exhausted, causing motorized water pumps to stop working. One of the two functioning clinics at the camp recently reported more than 60 cases of malnutrition.

An investigation into the kidnappings of the peacekeepers is underway by Sudanese Government authorities and UNAMID itself, which has been in place since the start of 2008 to protect civilians and crack down on violence in Darfur.

Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said on Monday that Ban remains concerned about the recent incidents that have contributed to a general deterioration of the situation in Darfur.

“Continued attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers and abductions and mistreatment of UN staff and humanitarian workers will only aggravate the situation,” Nesirky said. He said the Secretary-General appreciated the restoration of some humanitarian access to Kalma Camp.

“[Ban] calls upon the Government of Sudan to apprehend and bring to justice those who attack UN staff and humanitarian workers and to take all possible measures to ensure that humanitarian access to all Sudanese remains open and humanitarian space protected,” the spokesman added.

On June 21, three UNAMID peacekeepers were killed and a fourth was injured when they came under heavy gunfire from more than 20 assailants in camouflage battle dress.

The peacekeepers returned fire and engaged the attackers in a firefight which lasted almost an hour. The mission in June said three of the assailants were killed, while the remainder of the attacking force fled the scene, stealing one vehicle.

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