19 April 2013

Sudan: 40,000 Displaced From East Darfur Clashes - Agencies Estimate

Khartoum — An estimated 40,000 people have been displaced by the fighting between the Sudanese army (SAF) and rebel forces of SLA-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) in the East Darfur towns of Muhajeriya and Labado.

The cities had been under rebel control for two weeks, but SAF recaptured them between Tuesday and Wednesday as SLA-MM withdrew.

The 40,000-figure is based on reports by the Government of Sudan's Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), the African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur by 14 April, the UN humanitarian office published.

According to the agency, clashes that started on 6 April continue to put civilians at extreme risk. For its part, UNAMID disclosed that on Friday morning one of its peacekeepers and was killed and another two were injured in an attack by unidentified assailants on the Mission's team site near Muhajeriya.

UN OCHA has previously described Labado in Muhajeriya towns as located in strategic positions along main routes used by traders and humanitarians to move supplies from Khartoum through East Darfur to South Darfur.

Reports from agencies in the area suggest that virtually the entire population of Muhajeriya has fled. Prior to the clashes the town counted with some 35,000 inhabitants, HAC says, while Labado housed about 25,000 residents.

OCHA suggested that about 18,000 people from Muhajeriya are sheltering near the UNAMID Team Site outside of the town, and another 15,000 have sought refuge near the mission's Labado Team Site.

In addition, a national NGO claimed that 3,700 people from Muhajeriya have been displaced to Abu Hadid village, as quoted by OCHA.

Sudan's HAC added that approximately 3,000 civilians fled to Yassin locality from Muhajeriya and hundreds of others have sought shelter in other locations.

An inter-agency assessment mission disclosed that about 1,000 people displaced from Muhajeriya have arrived in El Neem camp, near Ed Daien, the capital of East Darfur, and that 125 have arrived at the Dreige camp for displaced near Nyala in South Darfur.

On Thursday, Radio Dabanga reported that 5,000 people have recently arrived at the Kalma camp in East Darfur, in line with reports provided by the sheikh.

He said some of these people come from Labado and Muhajeriya, and they are joining over 100,000 displaced who already live in the site.

Government denies access

UN OCHA reported that "despite concerted advocacy from humanitarian organizations, the government of Sudan has not allowed humanitarian organizations to have access to Muhajeriya and Labado to assess needs and provide relief, citing security concerns."

East Darfur state authorities announced on 14 April that an interagency mission would soon be allowed to travel to Yassin locality with urgent aid supplies. They also indicated that's similar missions would be allowed access to other locations "where the security situation is better", OCHA says.

The agency noted that relief supplies such as shelter, non-food items, medicines, education, water and sanitation provisions are "not adequate" in certain areas and agencies intended to bring stocks from Nyala.

However, humanitarian agencies in the capital of South Darfur "have been informed by government security forces that the provision of supplies via the main road between Nyala and Labado/Muhajeriya is not possible".

It alleged the road passes areas of "active military operations" which are unsafe for humanitarian movements. Aid agencies are reportedly looking into other options for the delivery of assistance to those affected in East Darfur.

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