United Nations humanitarian agencies have begun investigating the reasons behind the spontaneous arrival in the last 24 hours of between 2,000 and 4,000 displaced Sudanese people on the outskirts of one of the biggest towns in the strife-torn Darfur region.
Briefing reporters today in Khartoum, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said internally displaced persons (IDPs) have arrived in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State, in large numbers last night and this morning.
Jennifer Abrahamson said UN officials are examining why the displaced did not travel to the established camps for IDPs at nearby Zam Zam and Abu Shouk instead. The security situation in the area is “relatively quiet” today, she added, although there has been violent clashes and general insecurity in recent weeks.
In South Darfur, about 5,000 people have arrived in Gereida in the past week, part of a wave of an estimated 40,000 people who have fled to the town in recent weeks because of violent clashes in their home villages.
The newly displaced join an already swelling population of at least 1.2 million IDPs in Darfur, a region the size of France that has been beset by armed conflict, violent attacks by militias and widespread humanitarian suffering since early last year. Another 200,000 people have fled across the border into neighbouring Chad.
In Abuja, Nigeria, where African Union (AU) mediators have brought two Darfur rebel groups and the Sudanese Government together for peace talks, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo – he is also current chair of the AU – urged the parties to honour their ceasefire and negotiate a peaceful solution.
Mr. Obasanjo said Khartoum and the rebels should at least sign the humanitarian protocol which they agreed to earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, will visit the capitals of neighbouring Eritrea and Ethiopia next week to discuss the Darfur crisis with senior officials of both countries, said Radhia Achouri, spokesperson for the UN Advance Mission in the Sudan (UNAMIS).