Darfur: UN calls for immediate access to civilians threatened by violent clashes

Conditions for civilians in the South Darfur town of Muhajeria are getting worse

12 February 2009 – A senior United Nations official in Sudan today called for immediate access to over 100,000 people caught up in the latest outburst of hostilities in the country’s western Darfur region.

The fighting which broke out last month in South Darfur around Muhajeria and Shearia between Government forces and other armed groups against the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has exposed tens of thousands of civilians to violence.

“We are very concerned about the state and condition of civilians in these areas,” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Ameerah Haq.

Figures have yet to be verified because of limited access, but significant numbers of people have arrived at villages and displaced persons camps in North and South Darfur since the clashes began on 15 January.

“Aid agencies need urgent access to Muhajeria, Shearia – Mijekha and Kazanjadeed areas – and Labado where people are in critical need of assistance,” added Ms. Haq, while stressing that “unless access is immediately granted, the situation for hundreds of thousands of civilians could deteriorate rapidly.”

UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) stand ready to provide vital food, water, shelter and medical care to vulnerable civilians displaced from Muhajeria into surrounding areas.

International humanitarian agencies have attempted to reach the area four times in less than a week but were unable to obtain clearance to land their flights into the region.

Fighting in Darfur erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and its allied Janjaweed militiamen, causing an estimated 300,000 deaths and forcing some 2.7 million people to flee their homes.


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