Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the Government of Sudan and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to cease all military activities in South Darfur, warning of the impact on local civilians of renewed fighting between the two sides.
Mr. Ban is “gravely concerned by reports of a build-up of Government and rebel forces in the area around Muhajeria in South Darfur,” according to a statement issued last night by his spokesperson.
“The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Sudan and the JEM to cease all military activities in South Darfur,” the statement added.
Recent clashes in the Muhajeria area has exposed about 30,000 people to previously unseen levels of violence, destroyed an aid agency's office and forced the UN to relocate its staff.
The joint African Union-UN mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reported that the security situation in the area remains relatively calm and unpredictable due to aerial bombardments and frequent movement of unidentified aircraft over the town of Muhajeria.
In addition, UNAMID estimates that 5,000 people have concentrated at its base for the second time since the recent fighting began on 15 January. It was also reported that two people were injured during an explosion that occurred earlier in the day and were taken to a hospital in Muhajeria.
“The Secretary-General reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law and expresses his deep concern over the suffering which these military confrontations would bring to the civilian population, including the thousands of internally displaced persons who have sought refuge in camps and villages surrounding Muhajeria,” the statement said.
He reiterated that UNAMID “will continue to do its utmost to protect civilians in these difficult circumstances” and reminds the parties of their fundamental responsibility to work with the mission to ensure that civilians are protected from harm.
Other parts of Darfur – where a six-year conflict between rebels and the Government and allied Janjaweed militiamen has led to an estimated 300,000 deaths and forced 2.7 million people to flee their homes – also remain tense following clashes between Government forces and other rebel movements.