Conflict forces thousands to flee in Darfur, UN humanitarian office reports

Newly-displaced women discuss their concerns with UNAMID personnel at the Zam Zam IDP camp, near El Fasher, North Darfur, after fleeing fighting between Government forces and armed groups in the area of east Jebel Marra. Photo: UNAMID/Hamid Abdulsalam

19 February 2015 – Some 41,000 people have been forced to flee conflict in Darfur so far this year, according to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which warned that needs for the displaced have been significantly higher because relief agencies have been largely denied access to areas where some of the heaviest fighting is reportedly taking place.

“Humanitarian organizations continue to assess and verify reports of thousands of people forced to flee their homes following clashes between government forces and armed movements in North Darfur state and parts of the Jebel Marra area,” OCHA reported in its weekly humanitarian update on Sudan.

“To date, aid organisations have assessed and verified the needs of 41,304 people displaced as a result of this conflict,” according to the bulletin.

The number of people in need of assistance and protection may be significantly higher because humanitarian organizations have largely been denied access to parts of Jebel Marra where some of the heaviest fighting is reportedly taking place, a UN spokesperson told reporters at today’s press briefing.

“OCHA continues to call on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and to facilitate immediate access for humanitarian organizations to people in need,” said Stéphane Dujarric.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and other humanitarian partners are providing food, water, sanitation supplies and emergency household kits to displaced people in Um Baru and northern El Fasher.

Meanwhile, UNHCR reported that an estimated 120,800 South Sudanese refugees had sought refuge in Sudan after fighting started in South Sudan mid-December 2013 South Sudan between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President, Riek Machar.

Over 78,200 of these refugees have received some form of humanitarian assistance, the UN refugee agency reports.

Given the increased new arrivals and the establishment of two additional relocation sites in White Nile state, prompt establishment of temporary health services in these new locations is planned, according to UNHCR.

The South Sudan crisis has uprooted an estimated 1.9 million people inside their country, including nearly 100,000 who have fled to United Nations bases.

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