At least 3,000 people in Darfur sought shelter with the United Nations as resurgent violence in the western Sudanese region strains the resources of aid groups.
About 300 armed men attacked a camp for displaced persons in Khor Abeche, South Darfur state, on March 22, forcing 2,000 people to flee to a UN base, the joint African Union-UN mission in the region said today in an e-mailed statement. Another base in Korma, North Darfur, is sheltering about 1,000 people who said armed groups attacked their villages on March 21.
Recent displacements are “stretching the ability of aid agencies, national and international, to deliver basic services to those in need,” Ali Al-Za’tari, the UN’s resident and humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The number of aid workers in Darfur fell to 6,800 in late 2013 from 18,000 in 2009, he said.
Fighting between government forces and rebels as well as ethnic clashes have displaced more than 160,000 people in Darfur this year, according to the UN, with the numbers fleeing violence each month nearing the highest since 2004.
“More than at any point since the Darfur crisis started a decade ago, the people of Darfur need the immediate support of the humanitarian community,” Al-Za’tari said.
Insurgents in Darfur took up arms in 2003, accusing the government in Khartoum of neglecting the region. The conflict has led to the deaths of as many as 300,000 people, mainly due to illness and starvation, with about 2 million people currently displaced, according to UN estimates.
Government regulations for international aid groups in Darfur have contributed to challenging conditions in recent years, Al-Za’tari said in an e-mailed response to questions today. Some non-governmental organizations found the rules “rigid” and left, he said.
Authorities have contacted a number of NGOs to “align their status with Sudanese laws,” Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said by phone from the capital, Khartoum, on March 20. “Each organization is given a certain time period to comply with regulations. If they don’t do so, we don’t allow them to work.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross suspended operations in Sudan on Feb. 1 after the government said the organization had failed to meet legal obligations. Discussions are under way for the Red Cross to resume work, Asia Kambal, a spokeswoman for the group, said by phone today.
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