The United Nations has deplored an ambush that took place in the Sudanese region of Darfur on Tuesday, leaving four peacekeepers dead and eight others injured.
The incident, involving a Nigerian military patrol serving with the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), occurred some two kilometres from the Mission’s regional headquarters in El Geneina, West Darfur.
UNAMID personnel, who were heavily fired on from several directions, returned fire, according to a news release issued by UNAMID.
“The Mission condemns in the strongest terms this criminal attack on our peacekeepers, who are here in the service of Darfur’s people,” said UNAMID’s Force Commander and current officer-in-charge, Lt. General Patrick Nyamvumba. “I call on the Government of Sudan to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
UNAMID is tasked with protecting civilians, promoting an inclusive peace process and helping ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance across Darfur, which has been the scene of fighting between Sudanese Government troops and their allied militias and rebels since 2003.
Since the Mission’s initial deployment at the beginning of 2008, over 40 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of hostile actions.
For the past eight years, American presidents and policy makers have consistently called for measures to improve the plight of Darfuris caught in conflict. There was absolutely no appetite in the USA for a robust American presence on the ground in Darfur, so policy makers turned to the United Nations.
Today, there are about 20,000 peacekeepers from nearly 30 countries serving the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur. This is a particularly tough peacekeeping job, because there is not much peace to keep; rebel groups and the government are in a defacto state of war; while roving bandits strike at targets of opportunity. Still countries are willing to put their soldiers lives on the line to help protect the people of Darfur.
Today’s tragedy should be a reminder of the risks that peacekeepers take in the harshest places on the globe in the service of international peace and security.