21 July 2006

Sudan: UN Refugee Agency 'Extremely Concerned' At Rising Attacks in Darfur

A spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency today raised alarm about the worsening violence in Darfur, Sudan, where international organizations have had to suspend activities in camps for the internally displaced in one part of the West following attacks.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is "extremely concerned about the continuing deterioration of the security situation in Darfur," agency spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva just one day after three water workers there were beaten to death by a mob in a displaced persons camp in the Zalinge area in West Darfur.

"All activities by international organizations are now on hold in the IDP camps in the Zalinge area," he said. "We are still in the process of gathering more information on what exactly happened, but this tragic incident is just adding to an already long list of security incidents that have occurred over the past three weeks."

In the past two days, two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also been attacked by armed men in the Djebel Mara area, north of Zalinge, UNHCR reported, citing other incidents, including the killing by bandits last week of a driver working for an international NGO in El Geneina and the fatal shooting 10 days ago of an aid worker in North Darfur.

There are some 14,000 aid workers operating in Darfur, according to UNHCR, which has more than 80 staff in Darfur, mainly in West Darfur.

The conflict, which started in 2003, has forced more than 2 million people to flee fighting between Government forces, pro-government militias and rebels which has killed scores of thousands of others amid charges of civilian massacre, rape and other atrocities.

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