SUDAN: More displacement amid continuing violence in Darfur
NAIROBI, 21 February 2007 (IRIN) - Several thousand Sudanese civilians who were forced to flee their villages after fighting broke out between the Targem and Reziegat Maharia communities in South Darfur have moved to Kass town, where humanitarian agencies have started assisting them, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said.
Unconfirmed reports suggested that between 70 and 100 tribesmen were killed and 14 injured in the clashes, which were triggered by a dispute over pasture. By Tuesday, about 3,352 people had been registered for assistance, but others were widely dispersed.
Another 1,000 internally displaced, UNMIS said, had arrived at Al Salam camp from Sanamanaga after fleeing renewed fighting last week between the local population and the Maharia militia.
Kass town, which originally had 25,466 people, has taken on 73,653 displaced people since March 2004 - many from surrounding villages. Aid workers in the town said the IDPs took refuge in homes and buildings and set up makeshift shelters in open spaces surrounding institutions such as primary schools. More than 20 such informal camps exist in the town.
The latest movement of people comes amid reports that a significant group of suspected Janjawid Arab militia had been gathering for five days in Um Shalaya area, 75km northeast of El Geneina in West Darfur. No reason for the gathering could be immediately established, according to aid workers.
It also follows a continuing pattern of violence perpetrated by various armed groups. On Saturday, tents belonging to several UN agencies were destroyed by police from the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army, while an NGO was temporarily forced to relocate medical staff from Otash camp, 15km north of Nyala, because of shooting by drunken policemen.
In another incident, two suspected armed Arab militiamen entered Krinding II camp in El Geneina, burnt a shelter and shot dead one displaced person before fleeing.
Meanwhile, the influx of Chadian refugees into West Sudan has risen because of cross-border conflict. Within the past two weeks, an estimated 10,000 Chadian refugees have moved across the border.
On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said fighting had escalated over recent months in many parts of Darfur, forcing people to flee to more remote areas where it is harder for aid workers to reach them.
Civilians who stayed in their villages were unable to tend their fields or go to local markets because of the violence and insecurity, while traditional survival methods have broken down. These recent developments, it noted, were "alarming signals".
"Whole communities are being caught up in a spiral of destitution, leading them to seek refuge in the camps, which are already overflowing," the ICRC said in a statement at the end of a visit to the region by its president, Jakob Kellenberger.
The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when rebels took up arms to fight Khartoum’s powerful Islamist regime. The government responded by arming Janjawid militias to contain the conflict; the militias instead launched a campaign of rape and murder, targeting black African communities.
An estimated two million people have been made homeless by the conflict, which has since spilled over into eastern Chad and northeastern Central African Republic.
Copyright © IRIN 2007
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