Fearful Darfur sheikhs finally leave UN base
08/30/11 | AFP
UNITED NATIONS — Five sheikhs who spent more than a year at a UN base in Darfur saying they feared for their lives left on Monday after an accord with the Sudanese authorities, the UN said.
The five left the Kalma camp base, near the Southern Darfur city of Nyala, after the local state governor granted an amnesty, a UN spokesperson said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Sudanese government's move to end the deadlock over the community leaders.
The five took refuge at the UN mission in Darfur (UNAMID) community policing center in Kalma after violence at the giant refugee camp in July 2010.
Sudanese officials had been demanding custody of the five but the UN had refused to hand them over because "the sheikhs said they feared for their life," said a UNAMID statement.
Kalma has been a major source of tension between local people and the Sudanese government. The UN says at least 300,000 people have died in the western region since an uprising against the Sudanese government erupted in 2003.
The case of the five was raised with the government in Khartoum and at peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebel leaders in Doha, Qatar, officials said.
UNAMID peacekeepers escorted the five back to their homes. Ban "urges community leaders and members of the camp to refrain from all acts of violence," said a spokeswoman.