Sudan denies UN access to Darfur village to check rape accusations

KHARTOUM - Sudan has refused to let UN and African Union peacekeepers visit a village in the western Darfur region to investigate allegations of mass rape for the second time this month, saying it was skeptical about the motives for the visit.
The United Nations said Sudanese troops initially denied members of the joint peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID, access to Tabit in north Darfur earlier this month.
The force was later allowed to visit the area and said in a statement on Nov. 10 that it had found no evidence to substantiate media reports that Sudanese soldiers had raped about 200 women and girls there.
But after that visit, Australian UN Ambassador Gary Quinlan, president of the Security Council this month, said the heavy presence of Sudan's military during UNAMID's interviews of alleged rape victims in Tabit had raised serious concerns.
UNAMID said it intended to conduct further investigations and patrols in the area.
But Sudan's foreign ministry issued a statement late on Sunday saying it had denied UNAMID entry to the area because the mission had sought to bypass Khartoum and had gone directly to Darfuri authorities for a permit on Saturday.
"Sudan is skeptical about the motives behind the mission's insistence on a second visit to the Tabit area," the foreign ministry said.
The United Nations issued a statement on Monday saying that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was concerned about the fact that UNAMID was again denied access to Tabit.
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