UN receives assurances on continued access to displaced in South Darfur

Armed men from the Sudan Liberation Movement Army (SLM/A) in South Darfur

18 February 2009 – The Deputy Governor of South Darfur, the scene of recent violent clashes between Government forces and a rebel militia, assured a senior United Nations official today that the world body will receive continued access to around 100,000 people caught up in the latest outburst of hostilities on Sudan’s western flank.

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

Ameerah Haq, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, led the talks that resulted in commitments to allow emergency aid to reach the thousands of civilians stranded amid the violence.

During the discussions, Ms. Haq also broached the need for independent humanitarian assessments of population movements and of requirements for other types of aid, including early recovery assistance.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday welcomed an agreement of “goodwill and confidence-building” signed in Doha, Qatar, by the Sudanese Government and the JEM as a “constructive step” in the ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful conclusion to their conflict.

Meanwhile, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Susanna Malcorra, is in Khartoum for a regular tripartite meeting with the Government of Sudan and the African Union as part of ongoing efforts to ensure the continued deployment of the hybrid African Union-UN peacekeeping operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

This is the fourth such meeting to ensure that every effort is made by all parties to speed up the deployment of troops and equipment.

Some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed, either through direct combat or as a result of disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy, and more than 2.7 million others have been forced from their homes since the conflict in Darfur, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militia, began in 2003.


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