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Humanitarian conditions in Darfur are deteriorating, says UN report

Humanitarian conditions in Darfur are deteriorating, says UN report

The humanitarian situation inside Darfur deteriorated further last month, with thousands of civilians fleeing their homes, camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) becoming increasingly crowded and recent heavy rains only adding to the misery of many locals in the war-ravaged Sudanese region, according to a United Nations report released today.

The August overview by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also finds that violence inside the IDP camps scattered across Darfur is worsening, making it harder for aid workers to reach people in need and carry out their work.

More than 240,000 Darfurians are newly displaced or have been re-displaced this year, which means over 2.2 million people have fled their homes since the conflict between rebels, Sudanese Government forces and allied Janjaweed militia groups began in 2003. At least 200,000 people have also been killed in that period.

At the end of July the Security Council authorized the creation of a hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur (to be known as UNAMID) of some 26,000 troops and police officers to quell the violence and improve humanitarian access.

The overview notes that armed elements are present in many of the IDP camps, sometimes conducting violent activities that force a shutdown of aid operations until security can be restored. All operations inside Kalma camp in South Darfur state were suspended for three days last month because of insecurity, while there was a two-day shutdown at Zalingei camp in West Darfur.

The ongoing violence in the Jebel Marra region of West Darfur has limited relief operations there as well, according to the report, which said the situation is being exacerbated by the annual rainy season that in turn is affecting sanitary conditions in the camps and promoting the spread of waterborne diseases.

Many aid workers are also coming under direct attack. During August seven vehicles belonging to the humanitarian community were hijacked or stolen and four convoys were attacked. In total, five aid workers were kidnapped or abducted, and three were beaten. So far this year five aid workers have been killed and the remaining workers have had to relocate more than 20 times.

“This has a direct and tangible impact on the quality and quantity of aid and results, in some cases, in the inability to reach those in need,” the overview stated.

But OCHA said there were some positive signs, with humanitarian access improving in several areas of North Darfur state, including Korma, Kutun, northern Dar Zaghawa and Um Keddada.

Aid workers are bringing relief to an estimated 4.2 million people across Darfur, an arid and impoverished region in western Sudan, and about 3.1 million of those people received assistance in July from the World Food Programme (WFP).

Food assistance is rising at the moment in a bid to bridge the annual “hunger gap” among Darfur’s rural residents ahead of the harvest season.