Deeply concerned by an outbreak of inter-communal violence in North Darfur, the African Union-United Nations Mission in the region called today for an end to the fighting, which has sent thousands fleeing for safety and left a number of people dead over the past few days.
According to a news release from the Mission, known as UNAMID, thousands of displaced civilians from the town of Saraf Omra, located some 90 kilometres east of El Geneina, are currently seeking refuge near UNAMID's base in the vicinity.
"The Mission is providing protection and water to those affected, as well as medical treatment for more than 30 wounded individuals," the release said, adding that UNAMID is working with the humanitarian community in taking the necessary steps to provide further much needed assistance.
UNAMID says that its patrols found the town looted and a local market destroyed.
"Reconciliation efforts among the tribes have been taking place, however the situation remains tense and those displaced are in need of critical food and proper sanitary conditions," the Joint UN-AU operation said, calling on all parties involved to cease hostilities and to find a peaceful solution to their differences.
Just yesterday , the AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, wrapped up talks between the top AU official and leaders of two of the region's main rebel movements, encouraging the parties to overcome their misgivings and press ahead towards a comprehensive political accord, for the benefit of not only strife-ridden Darfur, but also for wider Sudan.
According to an earlier news release, Mr. Chambas facilitated a meeting yesterday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and leaders of the Sudan Liberation Army - Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement - Gibril Ibrahim (JEM-GI).
The incident in Saraf Omra comes in the wake of other recent episodes of violence in Darfur, most notably in Taweisha and El Lait areas in North Darfur, and in South Darfur where thousands were displaced following the looting and destruction of villages in the areas of Um Gunya and Hajeer.
UNAMID today reiterated its call upon the authorities to allow the Mission unhindered and immediate access to these areas, so that it can carry out its core activity for the protection of civilians as mandated by the AU and the UN and as consented to by the Sudanese Government.