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Darfur: Sheiks Sheltering at African Mission Site to Go Home

Darfur: Amnesty Enables Sheikhs Sheltering At UN-African Mission Site to Go Home

New York, Aug 28 2011 - The head of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur today voiced his appreciation to the Sudanese authorities for granting amnesty to five local sheikhs who were sheltering in the mission's premises for over a year fearing arrest for alleged crimes.

The Governor of South Darfur state granted the amnesty yesterday on the occasion of the feast of Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. The five were escorted back to their homes by members of the peacekeeping mission (UNAMID).

The sheikhs had sought protection at the mission's community policing centre (CPC) outside the Kalma camp for displaced persons following the violence that erupted in July 2010. South Darfur officials had demanded that the mission hand them over.

Since the sheikhs said they feared for their lives, UNAMID declined to turn them over when requested to do so by the authorities, citing its obligations under its mandate to ensure that due process and the rights of individuals are upheld at all times.

"Our approach of patience and persistence in handling this matter has produced a win-win and peaceful resolution," based on the good cooperation and working relations established between UNAMID and the Sudanese authorities notably, in this case, in South Darfur, said Ibrahim Gambari.

Mr. Gambari, the Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID, appealed to the sheikhs to "be of good behaviour while encouraging them to play a constructive role in the peace process and national reconciliation," according to a news release issued by the mission.

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

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