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Joint UN-African Union mission condemns North Darfur fighting

25 May 2009 – The hybrid African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has condemned heavy fighting in and around the town of Umm Baru which left over 50 people injured and forced hundreds to flee their homes.

According to a news release issued by the Mission, Sudanese Government forces clashed with armed elements of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) for several hours yesterday in the town, which is located about 100 kilometres from the Chadian border in the far west of North Darfur state.

Explosions were also reported in the area after Government planes flew overhead last night, the Mission added.

UNAMID peacekeepers based at a camp near Umm Baru report that at least 53 people have been seriously injured and need evacuation for further medical treatment. The casualties include civilians, Government soldiers and JEM members.

About 350 civilians – mainly women, children and the elderly – and 100 unarmed Sudanese soldiers and members of the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minnawi (SLA/MM), a pro-Government faction, are currently taking refuge near the UNAMID camp.

The Mission stressed that urgent humanitarian aid, particularly food, water, medical supplies and tents, is needed to help civilians displaced by the fighting. UNAMID has treated some of the wounded, and is on standby to evacuate those needing further medical care.

UNAMID chief Rodolphe Adada condemned yesterday's fighting, and urged all parties to the Darfur conflict to seek a peaceful resolution to their differences.

Yesterday's clashes follow an incident earlier this month in which JEM armed elements attacked Sudanese Government forces based near the town of Kornoi, located between Umm Baru and the Chadian border.

An estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million forced from their homes in more than five years of fighting in Darfur, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.

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