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Peacekeepers, Darfur leadership appeal for calm following violent protests

By United Nations - African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
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EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, March 29, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Head of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur, Joint Special Representative (JSR) Ibrahim Gambari, flew to Kabkabiya today and offered his condolences to the community for the loss of life which occurred yesterday. In his address to local leaders, he assured them of UNAMID's support for a peaceful resolution to the situation, which had led to the death of three civilians in the North Darfur community.

Violence erupted during demonstrations in Kabkabiya yesterday over the planned relocation of a local market, reportedly without prior consultations with the concerned communities.

The Darfur Regional Authority Chairperson, El Tigane Seisi, and the JSR met with the Kabkabiya Shartai (Native Administrator), Umdas and representatives from the diverse communities in the area—including internally displaced persons.

JSR Gambari appealed to the community leaders to continue their efforts toward maintaining the calm. He offered UNAMID's assistance in mediating a solution to the situation that led to demonstrations and the unfortunate loss of life.

“I am deeply saddened by the violence which erupted yesterday in this otherwise peaceful and diverse community,” he told local leaders. “The authorities of the Kabkabiya area must be more sensitive to the needs of the various communities who deserve to lead productive and secure lives,” the JSR added. “As we are on this road to peace, any decisions which may affect how people live should be taken with care and after deliberations and discussions with those to be affected.”

Mr. Seisi remarked that “the protection of IDPs is our primary responsibility, even after they return to their homes. (…) I believe that each and every decision that is made must involve the community.”

Later in the day, demonstrators gathered again outside the UNAMID compound, where the situation grew tense as some individuals attempted to force their way into the camp. As a result, three civilians, one UN local staff member, and one peacekeeper are currently being treated in UNAMID's hospital.

UNAMID is engaging with all concerned to ensure a prompt and peaceful resolution to the current situation and the return to normalcy in Kabkabiya.