UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SUDAN: Insecurity in Darfur threatens aid delivery - UN agencies
NAIROBI, 18 Jan 2007 (IRIN) - Ongoing insecurity in Sudan's Darfur region means humanitarian organisations operating there cannot ensure the survival of thousands of internally displaced persons, United Nations humanitarian agencies said.
"In the face of growing insecurity and danger to communities and aid workers, the UN and its humanitarian partners have effectively been holding the line for the survival and protection of millions. That line cannot be held much longer," the team said on Wednesday.
In a statement, the 13 agencies and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said repeated military attacks, shifting frontlines and fragmentation of armed groups had compromised safe humanitarian access and further victimised civilians who have been bearing the brunt of the protracted conflict in the region.
Since 2003, fighting in Darfur between rebel and government forces has caused the death of at least 200,000 people and forced another 2.5 million from their homes, some into neighbouring Chad.
The agencies said that in the past six months alone, more than 250,000 people have been displaced by fighting, many of them fleeing for the second or third time. Assisting people in need in December 2006 was the most difficult since April 2004.
The agencies said 12 relief workers had been killed in the past six months, more than in the previous two years combined, and armed groups had attacked 30 NGOs and UN compounds. In the town of Gereida in South Darfur, attacks against six humanitarian compounds on 18 December led to the withdrawal of the NGO staff and seriously compromised delivery of food, clean water and healthcare to 130,000 displaced people.
Because of the violence, aid agencies had suspended or minimised their activities, affecting the provision of healthcare. "This reduction in services is leading to a deterioration in hygiene in the [displaced people’s] camps, reflected by the cholera outbreak that struck 2,768 and killed 147 people during 2006."
The agencies called on the signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement, signed in Nigeria in May 2006 between the government and one of the main rebel groups, to work to bring peace to the region. They urged the signatories and non-signatories to the agreement to respect international humanitarian law and principles.
"Those who have committed attacks, harassment, abduction, intimidations, robbery and injury to civilians, including [displaced people], humanitarian workers and other non-combatants, must be held accountable," they said.
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