No room for complacency as humanitarian situation in Darfur remains grim, warns Oxfam
The humanitarian crisis in Darfur must get the international attention it deserves, warned international agency Oxfam, as the UN Security Council convenes today to discuss the Secretary General's latest report on Darfur.
Renewed fighting and insecurity during the last month has resulted in additional population movements within Darfur. In late December, over 5,000 people arrived at Kalma camp in South Darfur and another 5,000 at Mellit in North Darfur after their villages were attacked and burned. Security remains precarious and tensions are high; civilians throughout Darfur continue to be targeted.
"The international good will that has been generated by the signing of the peace agreement to end the 21-year civil war in southern Sudan must be coupled with increased efforts to solve the ongoing conflict in Darfur," said Caroline Nursey, Oxfam's Regional Director.
The African Union mission still has only 1,256 personnel on the ground. An agreement was signed nearly three months ago to expand the mission to over 3,000, but lack of support, personnel and accommodation has caused delays. Donors need to deliver their remaining pledges and AU member states must swiftly fulfill their commitments for additional personnel, in particular the deployment of police.
"A fully expanded African Union presence in Darfur is essential to monitor the ceasefire, protect civilians and help to prevent further fighting. Additional AU troops must be deployed to Darfur at once to establish a greater presence and to patrol areas where threats to civilians are greatest. The peace talks mediated by the African Union in Abuja must also resume without delay and be clearly linked to the wider peace process in Sudan," said Nursey.
Nearly 1.7 million people have been displaced within Darfur by 22 months of conflict, and 200,000 have fled across the border to Chad. The humanitarian situation remains extremely precarious, with hundreds of thousands of displaced people crowded into camps and towns throughout Darfur.
"Living conditions in many camps are terrible. People are huddled in simple shelters made of sticks and plastic sheeting, shivering from the bitter cold and the harsh winds. Many families have only one blanket for 5 or 6 people," said Venetia Bellers, Oxfam's Program Coordinator for South Darfur.
For further information contact:
Adrian McIntyre: 249 912 391 657 (Sudan)
Gemma Swart: 254 733 632 810 (Kenya)