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SLUG: 2-315530 Sudan / Darfur (L)







INTRO: A United Nations humanitarian mission returning from the war-torn Darfur area of western Sudan has urged the Sudanese government to protect local people from the conflict and allow humanitarian aid to reach the region. Cathy Majtenyi reports from V-O-A's East African Bureau in Nairobi.

TEXT: A spokesman for the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Ben Parker, says some people feel so unsafe in Darfur that they think receiving food and other aid would make them targets for looting and abuse.

Mr. Parker says the high-level U-N humanitarian team that visited three states in Darfur from April 28th to 30th repeatedly heard that local residents are afraid for their lives and property.

/// PARKER ACT ///

We were told by many of the displaced people that their number one priority was safety and security.

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For more than a year, the people of Darfur have been caught up in a brutal war waged between Sudanese government troops, rebel groups, and an Arab militia called janjaweed that many say is being supported by the Sudanese government.

The United Nations estimates more than one-million people have been displaced by the fighting since February 2003. They have fled widespread looting, burning of villages, and other atrocities.

The warring parties signed a ceasefire April 8th that Mr. Parker says has enabled some aid to get through to the displaced. But he says people are still afraid of the janjaweed fighters who, despite the truce, continue to launch raids on villages.

Mr. Parker says it will be a major operation to bring the displaced up to what he calls an "acceptable living condition." He says the people of Darfur are in need of food, health care, water, and other supplies.

Mr. Parker says it is up to the Sudanese government to bring law and order to the area, and it must modernize its bureaucracy so that more aid workers can reach people who need assistance.

Mr. Parker says the team will report its findings to the U-N Security Council next week. (Signed)


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