Tens of thousands displaced by South Darfur violence stranded without aid warns

The fighting which broke out last month around Muhajeria and Shearia between Government forces and the Sudanese Liberation Army/Mini Minawi faction (SLA/MM) against the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has exposed tens of thousands of civilians to violence, destroyed an aid agency’s office and forced the UN to relocate its staff.“As each day passes, people’s need for assistance increases and the humanitarian imperative to reach them becomes more pressing,” stressed UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Toby Lanzer.“NGOs and UN agencies are ready to deliver food, medicines and blankets to people right now and are trying to access the town of Muhajeria and villages between there and Shearia in order to do so,” he added.Earlier in the week, the joint African Union-UN mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reported that the security situation in the area was unpredictable due to aerial bombardments and frequent movement of unidentified aircraft over the town of Muhajeria. The leader of the JEM rebel militia, Khalil Ibrahim, also announced that he would withdraw his troops from the area due to UNAMID’s decision to remain in Muhajeria and appeals by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping and the international community for blue helmets to protect the local population. Fighting in Darfur erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and its allied Janjaweed militiamen, causing an estimated 300,000 deaths and forcing some 2.7 million people to flee their homes. 6 February 2009United Nations agencies stand ready alongside non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide emergency relief and assistance to the 30,000 people forced from their homes by renewed violent conflict in the South Darfur region of Sudan. read more