UN complains of access difficulty for aid workers in Sudan's Darfur

A UN official complained on Monday of access difficulty for aid workers in Sudan's western region of Darfur despite decrease of clashes between government forces and the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).

"Access has always been an issue in Sudan, particularly in Darfur over the last two years. In the last three months we have had deterioration in getting access in Darfur," said Manuel Aranda da Silva, the top UN humanitarian official in Sudan.

"There are at least 250,000 people we can not reach, they are mainly in western Darfur, but they are also in North Darfur," he said.

He said that most of access problems were due to security issues, adding that UN agencies in Sudan have been trying to solve them through negotiations with parties concerned, but no breakthrough has been achieved.

About the situation in refugee camps in Darfur, Da Silva said that there are many political factors causing tension in the camps, given the fact that people in the camps do not recognize the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), signed between the government and a main Darfur rebel faction in the Nigerian capital Abuja on May 5.

"There is a need for more dialogue and strong implementation of the DPA," he said, adding that mechanisms of the agreement need to be in place.

Thousands of Darfuris languishing in miserable camps have demonstrated against the peace deal almost daily and the protests have turned violent.

They say that the deal does not give Darfur enough political posts or compensation for war victims. They also want more assurances that they will be involved in disarming the Janjaweed militia reportedly supported by the government.

Da Silva said that aid workers had also been stopped from moving in Sudan's east, where a similar conflict has simmered for a decade between government forces and local rebels.

"We have been denied access to visit refugee camps and if we can not have access then we can not provide assistance," Da Silva said, adding "We will not be able to continue in the east if we do not have freedom of movement."

Source: Xinhua



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