The Sudanese foreign ministry denied reports that it has refused to grant visas to Ugandan policemen serving as part of United Nations - African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
’The Monitor’ newspaper based in Kampala said that Uganda was in the process of rotating 108 police officers in Darfur but due to the visa issue, it asked for the United Nations permission to instead extend the tenure of the existing officers.
According to the report, in a February 21 diplomatic note, Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry informed UNAMID that requests for visas for new police peacekeepers "are NOT approved", because "efforts should be directed towards increasing Arabic-speaking police as agreed".
The foreign ministry spokesperson in Khartoum Khalid Moussa said that such an action would be inconsistent with agreements that stress the African nature of the UNAMID force.
However, he acknowledged that Sudan insists that the units serving in Darfur need to be fluent in Arabic to interact with the local population.
Moussa also noted that any visa requests are made through the UN and not the individual countries.
The world’s largest U.N.-funded peacekeeping mission is at 88% of its total 26,000 strength but says its job to secure the remote area is difficult in the absence of a peace deal between Khartoum and rebels who took up arms in 2003.
The performance of UNAMID came under scrutiny by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) who expressed their displeasure by the inability of the force to protect civilians.
Furthermore, Khartoum which reluctantly agreed to the force has been placing obstacles and impediments to the deployment of troops and helicopters as well as delay in granting visas to members of the mission.