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Thousands more flee Darfur attacks

[Sudan] Naymlel,were returnees from south Darfur have arrived in Dilema of no place to settle. This woman Athil gives a cry for help. [Date picture taken: 05/29/2006] IRIN
Thousands of former refugees and internally displaced people are flocking to the south

Recent attacks on villages in the Sudanese state of West Darfur have forced up to 5,000 more people to flee their homes and seek refuge in two camps around El Geneina, a nongovernmental organisation working in the volatile area said.

Medair-Switzerland said about 500 households were reported to have arrived in Ardamatta Camp, and another 300 in Durti Camp, having fled their homes with very little during the peak of the cold season. Many of the displaced civilians, it added, had spent nights huddled inside rough shelters made of leaves and grass, without even blankets to protect them from the elements. Some suffered injuries while fleeing their villages.

"There has been an influx of newly displaced people arriving in [the] two camps," Medair noted in a statement, saying its technicians were extending water to the newcomers while its health workers had opened another temporary clinic in Ardamatta to focus on the specific health needs of the newly displaced.

Another agency, Terre des Hommes, was registering the new arrivals and distributing essential non-food items while Save the Children USA and Catholic Relief Services were providing food rations, assisting in repairing hand-pumps and providing temporary shelters. The new arrivals, Medair reported, said some of them had been beaten and others had walked for two days to reach the camps.

Meanwhile, several violent incidents were reported in Darfur over the weekend. According to the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), an Antonov plane bombed Ein Siro, near Kutum, killing two civilians and livestock on Saturday. The same day a UN contractor and an international NGO staff-member were abducted near Kutum.
Earlier on Friday, Sudanese government police officers had attacked staff from UNMIS, the African Union Mission in Sudan and seven NGOs in South Darfur. The attack on 20 staff and subsequent arrests of some of them occurred in the state capital of Nyala. According to the African Union, the staff were attending a social gathering.

"The Sudanese government has an obligation to protect humanitarian aid workers and others providing life-saving assistance to Sudan's citizens," the United States government said in a statement. "We call on all the parties in Darfur to demonstrate their commitment to peace and to serving the needs of all the Sudanese people."

"In the last six months, more than 250,000 people have been displaced by fighting, many of them fleeing for the second or third time. Villages have been burnt, looted and arbitrarily bombed and crops and livestock destroyed. Sexual violence against women is occurring at alarming rates. "
UNMIS said it would officially protest to the Sudanese government over the incident, adding that it was "deeply concerned at the treatment of the detained staff … in violation of basic principles of rule of law and due process". Some of the injuries sustained by the staff members were so serious they required treatment at the UN clinic in Nyala.

On 17 January, several UN agencies called for an improvement in the Darfur situation, saying access to people in need in December had been the worst since April 2004. "Repeated military attacks, shifting frontlines, and fragmentation of armed groups compromise safe humanitarian access and further victimise civilians who have borne the brunt of this protracted conflict," they said. "In the last six months, more than 250,000 people have been displaced by fighting, many of them fleeing for the second or third time. Villages have been burnt, looted and arbitrarily bombed and crops and livestock destroyed. Sexual violence against women is occurring at alarming rates. This is unacceptable."

According to the statement, violence was increasingly directed against humanitarian workers, of whom 12 were killed in six months. Over the same period, 30 NGO and UN compounds were directly attacked by armed groups while more than 400 humanitarian workers were forced to relocate 31 times from different locations throughout Darfur.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least two million others displaced from their homes in Darfur since 2003, when government forces and allied militias began fighting rebel groups seeking greater autonomy for the arid and impoverished region.

See realated stories at:  [http://www.irinnews.org/frontpage.asp?SelectRegion=East_Africa&SelectCountry=Sudan]


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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