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Sudan frees one of two UN staff members arrested in Darfur

13 July 2011 – Sudanese authorities have released a United Nations staff member arrested in May in the conflict-affected western region of Darfur, but a second UN employee remains in custody, the spokesperson of the Secretary-General said today.

Hawa Abdalla Mohamed, an employee of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), was freed in the capital, Khartoum, yesterday. She underwent a medical examination and appeared to be in good health, the spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, told reporters in New York.

Ms. Mohamed was arrested on 6 May by the national security personnel at her residence in the Abu Shouk internally displaced persons camp, near El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.

Her colleague, Idriss Abdelrahman, who was taken into custody in late April, remains in detention in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.

The senior leadership of UNAMID continues to press the local authorities to release Mr. Abdelrahman.

Last week, the UN-AU Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID, Ibrahim Gambari, had called for the immediate release of the two national staff members.

UN staff have functional immunity – protection from charges that might be levelled against them for activities related to their official duties. Mr. Gambari had previously stated that the arrest of the two national staff contravened the Status of Forces Agreement between UNAMID and the Government of Sudan.

Darfur has been wracked by conflict and large-scale displacement since fighting first erupted between rebels, Government forces and allied militia in 2003. An estimated 300,000 people have been killed and as many as 2.7 million others displaced.



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