Tens of thousands of people continue to flee their homes in Sudan's western region of Darfur for the safety of internally displaced people's camps after recent fighting between government forces and armed militias.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), an estimated 66,000 IDPs have arrived in camps in North and South Darfur since January. At least 53,000 are in and around North Darfur State's Zam Zam IDP Camp.
"The IDPs arriving are mainly women, children and the elderly; many men have stayed behind to sustain the livestock," said Howard Bell, country director for CARE International, Switzerland. "Many of the new arrivals are living in the open air with the belongings and animals they were able to bring with them.
"Agencies are ramping up their activities in these areas and pooling their resources to support these new arrivals," he added. "Over and above the immediate physical needs - food, shelter and water - the recently arrived IDPs also need protection."
"We have stepped up patrols around Zam Zam Camp to ensure the IDPs are protected," said Chris Cycmanick, spokesman for the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur.
UNAMID recently reported that its patrols found deserted villages and unexploded ordnance in North Darfur.
According to OCHA, some of the new IDPs have UN World Food Programme ration cards suggesting this may not be their first displacement. The agency warned that a shortage of adequate sanitation facilities was raising the risk of disease outbreaks.
Verification of the IDPs is ongoing, but in the meantime, WFP and the International Committee of the Red Cross are providing food and non-food items to the new arrivals, while the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) plans to construct latrines and the NGOs Partner Aid International and Médecins Sans Frontières are providing medical assistance.
An estimated 1.9 million people have been displaced by the conflict, which started in 2003 when government forces and allied militias began fighting rebel groups that wanted greater autonomy for the arid and impoverished region.
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