Darfur peacekeepers missing in Sudan floods

Unamid peacekeepers in Darfur (file image)
Image caption The UN has some 20,000 troops in Darfur

Four peacekeepers are missing in Sudan's Darfur region after being swept away by floods, a UN official has said.

The peacekeepers were escorting an aid convoy when a "powerful current" swept them away, Rania Abdulrahman told the BBC.

Another two peacekeepers were found alive by a rescue team, she said.

More than 300,000 people across Sudan have been affected by floods that have killed nearly 50 people in August, the World Health Organization has said.

'Stuck in mud'

The region around the capital Khartoum had been particularly badly hit and was experiencing the worst floods in 25 years, it said.

Image caption Floods have killed nearly 50 people in Sudan this month

The joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Unamid, is one of the largest in the world, with about 20,000 soldiers and police.

The peacekeepers were en route to Misterei, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south-west of the regional capital Geneina, with a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy when a flash flood hit, Ms Abdulrahman said.

"The incident occurred while the peacekeepers attempted to pull out their truck which was stuck in the mud of a river valley," she said.

The seven WFP staff members who were in the convoy - five Sudanese and two foreigners - are all safe, WFP spokeswoman Amor Almagro told AFP news agency.

The UN has not released the nationality of the missing peacekeepers.

In August last year three peacekeepers from Tanzania drowned after their armoured vehicle became stranded while crossing a swollen river in Sudan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported to the Security Council last year.

He has also raised concerns about equipment shortfalls "which mainly pertain to the serviceability of armoured personnel carriers," and adversely affect the mission's operations, AFP reports.

The peacekeepers are deployed in Darfur to end a decade-long conflict between government and rebel forces.

The UN estimates that more than 300,000 people have died in Darfur, mostly from disease, since rebels took up arms in 2003.

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