The United Nations top humanitarian official today urged the local administration in Sudan's conflict-affected region of Darfur to show stronger commitment to facilitating the delivery of aid to those in need without political or ethnic considerations.
Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, voiced particular concern over access restrictions to areas affected by ongoing fighting in Eastern Jebel Marra.
Insecurity in Darfur has limited the capacity of humanitarian agencies to provide assistance to those affected by the conflict, especially in remote areas. Ms. Amos also expressed concern over increasing incidents of kidnapping of aid workers. Some 30 foreign humanitarian workers have been abducted since March 2009. Four of them remain in captivity.
“I welcome the Government's efforts to resolve kidnapping cases and call for perpetrators to be apprehended and brought to justice. Stopping impunity is the only way to address this worrying trend,” Ms. Amos on the fourth day of her mission to Sudan, during which she has also visited southern Sudan.
Ms. Amos visited a primary health care centre servicing internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Al Salaam camp, on the outskirts of El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, where she heard accounts of life as IDPs from women who fled their homes seven years ago.
They expressed their desire to return to their villages, but explained that they were not planning to do so soon due to fear of violence. Ms. Amos said that “all people have the right to return home or settle in an alternative location of their choosing, but the conditions need to be appropriate and their safety and security must be guaranteed.”
In Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, Ms. Amos discussed the issue of IDP return with representatives of the humanitarian community.
“Ensuring that returns take place in an environment free from intimidation is the responsibility of the Government,” she said.
“Humanitarian workers are ready to assist where there is clear humanitarian need, and where the Government is not able to provide the required support,” she added. “When displaced people do not want to return to their area of origin, we need to assist their integration into existing communities and support the development of sustainable livelihoods.”
Ms. Amos will tomorrow visit a resettlement site and one of the largest IDP camps in Darfur. She will then travel to Khartoum for further discussions with Government officials, donor representatives, non-governmental organizations and UN officials.