Radio Dabanga (Hilversum)

Sudan: Unamid - Mass Displacement Evidence, Sends 'Tons of Aid' to North Darfur

El-Fasher — UNAMID confirmed it found evidence of mass displacement in parts of North Darfur that were affected by the week-long tribal clashes between the Arab Abbala and Beni Hussein tribes, according to a press statement.

Several displaced indicated they are living under dire circumstances, as food, water, medicine and blankets are starting to run out or are lacking. The most affected areas by the fighting are reportedly al-Sref Beni Hussein, Saraf Omra, Kabkabiya and Garrah Azawia.

Aicha Elbasri, UNAMID spokesperson told Radio Dabanga on Thursday that the mission is transporting by road "75 tons of relief items" to al-Sref Beni Hussein and Garrah Azawia from 16 to 19 January.

These items include plastic sheets, blankets, jerry cans, mattresses and mosquito nets.

The mission is also providing escort to World Food Programme (WFP) trucks loaded with 22 metric tons of food that have already reached Kutum and are "expected to reach Kabkabiya within a few days".

UNAMID provided [on Thursday] logistical support and escorts to the relief supplied by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and by WFP. The relief convoy consists of plastic sheeting, blankets and sleeping mats.

The Kutum-Kabkabiya- El Sereif convoy left El Fasher today, [17 January], and is expected to arrive at El Serief on 19 January, the spokesperson pointed out.

Elbasri said the mission also mobilized [on Thursday] four cargo flights, which airlifted relief items from El Fasher to Kabkabiya. The cargo consists of plastic sheets, blankets, and sleeping mats provided by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and WFP.

From Kabkabiya, UNAMID will transport the cargo by road to Gharra Azzawia.

Mass displacement

The mass-displacement confirmation mentioned above follows a two-day assessment mission deployed by UNAMID to Saraf Omra, Kabkabiya and al-Sref Beni Hussein between 13 and 14 January, a UNAMID press release declared.

The assessment team consisted of civilian, military and police personnel. They were in charge of inspecting the security and humanitarian situation and to verify reports of fighting in the three most affected areas.

UNAMID's press release declared the team found "evidence of mass displacement, including those displaced from their homes in villages around [al-Sref], along with workers who said they had fled from the work sites at the [Jebel 'Amer] gold mines as a result of the fighting."

Government figures suggest that about 70.000 people have been displaced and more than 100 killed since the clashes broke out, the mission's statement read.

Most urgent needs

As stated on the press release, the assessment team interviewed many of the displaced in the aftermath of the violence. Their most urgent needs are "access to health care, water, food and other basic items, most notably shelter and blankets".

In response, UNAMID claims to be now supporting mediation and reconciliation initiatives between the two rival tribes besides the supplies previously outlined.

The mission is also conducting security escorts to facilitate humanitarian access and is stepping up daily patrols in al-Sref Beni Hussein, the area most affected by the tribal clashes, according to the press release.

Moreover, UNAMID has conducted several medical evacuations for Darfuris wounded by the fighting, and has provided full logistics support to the local mediation teams working to reduce the tensions in Jebel 'Amer.

"I urge all parties to enable both UNAMID, UN agencies and their humanitarian partners to be given full access to all areas of Darfur, so affected populations can receive needed protection and assistance," said Aïchatou Mindaoudou, acting joint special representative and joint chief mediator a.i.

In addition to these efforts, UNAMID has bolstered its protection of civilians strategy with a revamped Darfur-wide early-warning and response mechanism designed to address populations in need by reaching them quickly through the rapid formation of response teams, the press release revealed.

These efforts, it continued, along with the early-warning mechanism, are designed to strengthen UNAMID's ability to prevent violence, to proactively address emerging situations and to react to humanitarian and protection needs.

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