United Nations – African Union peacekeepers (in blue) are seen here during a volleyball match with a Darfuri professional team, “Al Burj”, which means “The Tower” in Arabic, and plays in the Sudanese league.
The contest took place recently at the peacekeeping mission’s headquarters in El Fasher, North Darfur as part of a 12-match tournament organized by UNAMID. The mission says the sports outreach is “in line with its ongoing support for peaceful activities among local communities in Darfur.”
Sudan and the United Nations have a formal mechanism in place to plan an exit strategy for UNAMID from Darfur. The peacekeeping mission arrived in 2007 with a mandate to help quell violence in the restive region and protect civilians who had come under attack from infamous ‘Janjaweed’ militia.
Today’s Darfur remains violent and militarized, with many people still living in displaced camps, but relations between the UN and Sudan’s government have improved in recent years as fighting between the government and rebel groups subsided.
Parts of the mountainous Jebel Marra region remain under control of a rebel group called the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army. Major towns and roads as well as most of the countryside, however, remain in the hands of the government.
(Photo Credit: Jens Wieben, UNAMID)