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U.N. says 20,000 more displaced by unrest in Darfur

Fresh fighting in western Sudan region sees many more displaced, mostly women and children

Published: Updated:

About 20,000 people have been displaced by fresh fighting in Sudan’s Darfur region, the U.N.’s World Food Programme said on Monday, adding to the total of almost two million seeking refuge from the violence.

The displaced people - most of them women and children - arrived in the village of Saniya Deleiba, 35 kilometres from South Darfur’s state capital of Nyala, Amor Almagro, the WFP’s public information officer, told Agence France-Presse on Monday.

Meanwhile, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) claimed that Sudanese authorities had denied access to international peacekeepers in the region.

The restriction is the latest of many claimed by UNAMID, despite a deal with Sudan’s government allowing peacekeepers freedom of movement.

Concerns

UNAMID voiced its concerns amid spiraling violence in South Darfur over the past few days, and also cited reports of looting and civilian casualties.

About 50 kilometers southeast of Nyala, “violence has resulted in the reported burning of a number of villages and the displacement of a large number of civilians in the vicinity of Um Gunya,” the mission said.

UNAMID is tasked with ensuring safe and unhindered humanitarian access to the people of Darfur.

Last year also saw a steep escalation of tribal conflicts and a rise in criminality in the 11-year-old rebellion by ethnic insurgents in the region.

Most of the “tribal” conflicts pitted well-armed Arab militias against each other.

Not satisfactory

Those forces are a type of militia which the governor of North Kordofan state, Ahmed Haroun, ordered out of his territory last month.

The official SUNA news agency quoted Haroun as saying the Rapid Support Forces “did not undergo satisfactory training, came from pastoral communities, caused confrontations with citizens and instigated panic and anarchy” in the state.

Before reaching North Kordofan, the militia had been on operations in South Kordofan state, where a separate rebellion has been underway for almost three years.

The latest displacement of civilians in Darfur follows the uprooting of 380,000 people because of violence in the western region last year.

That figure was more than in any year since 2004, at the height of the Darfur conflict, said Damian Rance, a public information officer with the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

(With AFP)