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'Violence must stop now,' says UN expert as fresh fighting displaces thousands in North Darfur

5 February 2016 – Warning that, in the last two weeks, a new escalation of violence has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, a United Nations human rights expert today called for an immediate end to hostilities that have triggered new protection and humanitarian concerns in the long-restive region of Sudan.

"Violence is certainly not the way to resolve the current difficulties Sudan is facing, and must stop, now," Aristide Nononsi UN Independent expert on the situation in Sudan stressed in a news release, urging all parties to the conflict to respect international human rights and humanitarian law, to ensure humanitarian access to people in need at all times, and protect unarmed civilians.

The Sudanese Government, he continued, has a duty to facilitate free, full and unhindered access to all conflict-affected areas to the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations.

The ongoing hostilities between Government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid have reportedly resulted in human rights violations and abuses as well as violations of international humanitarian law, including destruction of civilian property and objects as well as considerable displacement of civilians, in addition to unspecified number of civilian casualties.

According to UNAMID, up to 21,338 civilians, mainly women and children, have fled into North Darfur state and have sought refuge around their camp as of 1 February. About 15,000 others have fled into Central Darfur state, according to the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan.

The number of internally displaced persons following the attacks on Mouli and surrounding villages in west Darfur is estimated at 5,000 civilians, according to the Humanitarian Aid Commission of the Sudanese Government. These civilians have mostly fled to El Geneina, while the number of civilians who sought refuge in Chad remains unknown.

"I call on the Government of Sudan to create the conditions for an inclusive dialogue and ensure the participation of all armed opposition groups to advance peace and reconciliation in the country," the UN Independent Expert stated.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

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