The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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December 9, 2009

December 9, 2009 - The Daily Star - Ban seeks help from Bashir to free UN abductees

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Sudan’s president to seek help in freeing two members of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur who have been held hostage for more than 100 days, the UN said late Monday. United Nations spokesman Martin Nesirky said it was the first call between Ban and Omar al-Bashir since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader in March on charges of orchestrating war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

The UN chief’s phone call on Sunday came two days after Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the court’s chief prosecutor, said that the Sudanese leader was becoming increasingly isolated and will ultimately face international justice. Bashir has refused to recognize the tribunal’s authority.

The war in Darfur began in 2003 when rebel groups took up arms against the government, complaining of discrimination and neglect. UN officials say up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes. Khartoum insists the death toll is 10,000.

Nesirky emphasized that the call was made purely on humanitarian grounds, noting that one of the two abductees is “gravely ill.”

The two staffers, a man and a woman, were abducted at gunpoint in West Darfur on August 29.

The UN chief wanted to ensure that all efforts are being made to secure their release, Nesirky said.

“The government has been attempting to secure their release but they have not as yet been released,” he said.

“The president assured the secretary general that everything possible was being done.”

The UN chief and the Security Council also condemned two separate attacks Friday and Saturday on peacekeepers with the UN-AU force, known as UNAMID, that killed five Rwandan soldiers.

The council statement Monday noted the action already taken by the Sudanese government “and encouraged it to ensure that all the perpetrators are swiftly identified and brought to justice.”

The Security Council reiterated its full support for UNAMID and called on all parties in Darfur “to cooperate fully with the mission, including to secure the release of the two staff held hostage.”

In other news, former Darfur rebels said on Tuesday they had detained three men suspected of killing two Rwandan peacekeepers in a shoot-out that soured relations between Khartoum and Kigali.

Two Rwandan members of the joint UN/African Union UNAMID peacekeeping mission in Sudan’s Darfur region were shot dead as they distributed water in a refugee camp in the settlement of Shangil Tobay on Saturday.

A day earlier, three other Rwandan peacekeepers were killed in an ambush as they escorted a water tanker near the North Darfur settlement of Saraf Omra.

A spokesman for former Darfur rebel leader Minni Arcua Minnawi told Reuters his forces launched an investigation and arrested three men thought to be behind the Shangil Tobay shooting.

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