25 February 2009 Over 15,000 people have sought safety in the Zam Zam camp in North Darfur after fleeing the latest outburst of violence in the South Darfur region of Sudan, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today.
OCHA is concerned that with more people arriving each day, the large influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is putting a strain on the provision of water to camp residents.
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.
Earlier this month, the two sides signed an agreement of “goodwill and confidence-building,” which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed as a “constructive step” in the ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful conclusion to their conflict.
Meanwhile, the joint African Union-UN peacekeeping mission to Darfur, known as UNAMID, reported that an additional 150 Senegalese peacekeepers arrived today in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur and the mission’s headquarters, bringing the total to 834 in the Senegalese infantry battalion.
The main duties of the battalion, which is based in El Geneina, West Darfur, include conducting escorts for humanitarian convoys, and conducting patrols to enhance security for civilians in the area and encourage confidence within the local population.
One year after taking on the task of suppressing the violence, UNAMID has some 12,753 blue helmets – of the 19,555 authorized by the Security Council – across Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.
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