UN VOICES CONCERN OVER MISSING PILOT IN DARFUR
28 July - The United Nations today expressed its deep concern over a helicopter pilot who has been missing for two days in the south of Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.
On Monday, the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID, lost contact with one of its helicopters after it landed in Aborjo in South Darfur state.
Three commanders from the rebel group known as the Liberty and Justice Movement (LJM), who were being transported in the helicopter, were beaten at the scene, along with the pilot.
The passengers and crew – not including the pilot – were later taken to a Government military camp, and following further contacts with authorities and security officials, returned yesterday to Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.
“However, the pilot is still unaccounted for,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York today, noting that UNAMID is working with the Sudanese Government to locate him.
In a related development, the mission reported today that the situation in the Kalma camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) is calm but remains tense following recent unrest over the current state of the peace process.
Fighting broke out in the camp over the weekend following the latest round of peace talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, aimed at bringing an end to the conflict in Darfur, with some of Kalma's residents saying they were not fully represented.
The gunmen identified themselves as members of the Abdul Wahid faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), one of numerous rebel groups that have been fighting Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen in Sudan's Darfur region since 2003.
Some 250 representatives of Darfurian civil society attended the Doha negotiations, including 60 people on behalf of IDPs and refugees, with all envoys elected after months of deliberation, community gatherings and training workshops.
One person was injured and no deaths were reported following the violence. Sudanese authorities have arrested two people for attempting to assault a sheikh who attended the Doha conference.
An estimated 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million others have been displaced in the past seven years in Darfur due to fighting between rebels and Government forces backed by the Janjaweed.