Humanitarian aid groups must be allowed back into Darfur refugee camp: UN official

15:11, August 14, 2010      

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John Holmes, UN under- secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, on Friday called on local authorities in South Darfur to allow humanitarian aid organizations, including UN agencies, into the Kalma camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

"The United Nations has been in close contact with the relevant Sudanese authorities to restore access to both Kalma and Eastern Jebel Marra, but until today progress has not been forthcoming," Holmes said. "If access is not urgently restored, the situation risks deteriorating rapidly."

Violence in the Kalma camp has prompted a ban on five international NGOs, and the UN humanitarian agencies that provided essential supplies to the IDPs.

"I am extremely concerned about the welfare of the IDPs at Kalma camp, to whom we have not been able to deliver relief for 13 days," said Holmes. "Deliveries of food and water pumps have for example not been possible. Sanitation is also a major concern as it is the middle of the rainy season."

Holmes also expressed the need to restore UN access so that IDPs who fled the camp in the wake of recent violence can be located and assisted. He said that thousands of the Kalma IDPs " remain unaccounted for."

"We also need to find out how many people have left, and where they have gone, in order to provide relief to them too," Holmes said.

This is the not the first time that humanitarian agencies have been pushed out of conflict-ridden Darfur.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 11 international NGOs were dismissed from Darfur in March 2009, and the pattern of obstruction has continued since.

Since February 2010, groups have not been prevented from bringing aid to some 100,000 people affected by fighting in the Eastern Jebel Marra region of Darfur.

OCHA also indicated that violence against humanitarian workers in Darfur is on the rise. A humanitarian worker abducted in May is currently being held in South Darfur, with no charges being brought against the captors.

Source: Xinhua


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