The United Nations peace mission in Sudan’s conflict-wracked Darfur region said Friday it had opened an inquiry after one of its units was found leaving the region with weapons.
“Members of the security section discovered weapons and military equipment in the baggage of a unit of peacekeepers during a routine changeover at El Fasher” airport in northern Darfur, a spokesperson from the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid) said.
The force “immediately informed Sudanese authorities and opened an inquiry,” spokesperson Ashraf Issa said.
The UN Security Council last year extended the mandate of Unamid until the end of June 2017 over fierce opposition from the government in Khartoum.
At least 20 000 troops and policemen from more than 30 countries are currently in Darfur, a region of the size of France but Unamid did not reveal the nationality of the unit found with weapons.
The Unamid mission was first deployed in Darfur in 2007, a compromise between Western calls for a fully-fledged UN peacekeeping mission and Khartoum’s insistence on an African solution.
Violence erupted in Darfur when ethnic minority rebels rose up against President Omar al-Bashir, accusing his Arab-dominated government of marginalising the region.
Bashir mounted a brutal counter-insurgency and at least 300 000 people have been killed since the conflict began in 2003, the UN says. Another 2.5 million have fled their homes.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges related to Darfur, which he denies.