The United Nations said on Thursday its inquiry into mass rape allegations in Sudan's Darfur region was inconclusive and needed further investigation as Sudan questioned the competence of the peacekeepers and told the U.N. Security Council no one was raped.
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Local media reported accusations last month that Sudanese soldiers had raped some 200 women and girls in Tabit in Darfur.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said a team from the joint U.N. and African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur needed to return to Tabit "in part due to the heavy presence of military and police" during their first visit several weeks ago.
But Sudan has refused to allow the team to go back. Instead Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman Elnor gave the 15-member Security Council Khartoum's own report by Prosecutor General for Darfur Crimes, Yasser Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed.
"The team pursued the presence of any physical proof such as victims' clothes drenched in blood, broken doors at houses of families in the area, injuries of some women or men, yet we did not find any," Ahmed wrote in the report, obtained by Reuters.
"In search of medical indications about receiving rape victims for treatment, we found none," said Ahmed, adding that no one questioned knew of any rape cases.
"This reassured us that no rape of any woman in the area of Tabit took place."
Law and order have collapsed
Addressing the Security Council on Thursday, Ladsous urged the Sudanese government to allow immediate and independent access to Tabit for the joint U.N. and African Union peacekeeping mission so the reports could be verified.
"Only an independent investigation by UNAMID will address the concerns over these serious allegations," he said.
Law and order have collapsed in much of Darfur, where mainly non-Arab rebels took up arms in 2003 against the Arab-led government in Khartoum, accusing it of discriminating against them.
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UNAMID has been deployed in the region since 2007.
Sudan envoy Elnor questioned how it could be "conceivable that 200 women and girls could have been raped in a village without anybody avenging the honour of their daughter or their wife, without anybody reporting the incident."
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He told the Security Council a need for investigators from the peacekeeping operation to return to Tabit "shows a lack of professionalism by the mission, which should have withdrawn immediately from the village if it had thought there was military presence or other presence hindering its work."
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Image: Open hand raised, Stop Rape sign from Shutterstock.