Armed groups loot UN food warehouse in Sudan

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


The government of Sudan faced heavy criticism from the United Nations Wednesday, one day after armed groups in the state of North Darfur raided U.N. facilities.

As reported by Reuters, the armed groups looted or burned about 1,900 tons of food that had been stored at a United Nations World Food Program facility in the city of El Fasher.

The supplies in this warehouse were to have been distributed to more than 700,000 needy people in the region, and their loss brought about stern criticism from U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.

“The Secretary-General regrets the loss of aid and other equipment and supplies intended for the benefit of Darfur communities,” a spokesperson said. “He calls upon the Government of Sudan to restore order, and to ensure that the former property and assets of the former United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID, are employed strictly for civilian use, in conformity with the Framework Agreement the Government signed with the United Nations in March this year.”

Tensions in Sudan have been rising of late. In October, an armed uprising resulted in the detainment of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Two weeks ago, the United Nations reported that Hamdok had been reinstated, but protests have continued as people opposed to military rule, or military involvement in government, have routinely taken to the street and been met with tear gas.

Concurrently, rebel fighting groups have been engaged in battles with each other throughout North Darfur, which has driven people from their homes and resulted in widespread death and destruction. Additionally, these groups have routinely raided U.N. facilities.

“One in three people in Sudan needs humanitarian assistance,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Khardiata Lo N’diaye told Reuters. “Such an attack severely impedes our ability to deliver to the people who need it most.”

The U.N. has attempted to bring stability to the region and has frequently critiqued Sudan for human rights abuses, including mass incarceration, preventing peaceful protests, and attacking journalists.

“We have publicly raised our concern about all human rights violations, including the unlawful detention of hundreds of people, attacks against journalists and human rights defenders, and the death of many people as a result of excessive use of force by security forces during the recent protests,” a U.N. joint statement from Dec. 10 reads. “The people of Sudan have a right to protest peacefully; journalists must be allowed to do their work freely, and they and civil society activists and other human rights defenders should be protected. All those responsible for violations committed must be held accountable.”

However, Human Rights Watch says that the U.N. shoulders some of the blame as the withdrawal of troops from the U.N. as well as other African nations is what produced the environment that has allowed communal violence to reemerge.