Crisis in Kalma camp "symptom of a bigger problem" in Darfur, expert warns

15:12, August 14, 2010      

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As the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in the war-ravaged Darfur region in western Sudan, the recent chaos in one of the largest camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) presents a "symptom of a bigger problem" in the region, an International Crisis Group expert told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Fabienne Hara, vice-president of multilateral affairs for the International Crisis group which is a Washington-based think tank, said fragmentation amongst the IDPs into various rebel factions have led to an increasingly complex situation.

"The crisis in Darfur is no longer what we thought it was. It is not black and white with bad guys on one side and good guys on the other," she said.

Located near South Darfur State's capital of Nyala, the Kalma camp is the largest settlement for internally displaced persons IDPs in the region.

Thirteen days have passed since the government blocked the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from distributing food and other assistance to the camp, due to a recent outbreak of violence.

"The humanitarian situation continues to worsen," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters here on Friday. "Acute shortages of water persist due to a lack of sufficient fuel to power pumps and, the rainy season and poor sanitation are the root causes for spread of disease."

According to Nesirky, about 50,000 people are still believed to be in the Kalma camp and several thousands of others have sought refuge around a community police center run by the join UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

Violence erupted in the embattled camp in late July, following the latest round of peace negotiations in Qatar's capital of Doha.

Deadly clashes between protesters of the Abdul-Wahid Mohamed el- Nur faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) who felt they were not fully represented in the Doha talks, and supporters of the negotiations, resulted in the deaths of eight IDPs.

"From the start of the conflict, the IDP camps were very politicized, but at least they were somewhat cohesive. Now they are fragmenting," said Hara. The increasing divisions have further complicated the peace process, she added.

The recent unrest has locked the hybrid UNAMID in a confrontation with the government of the South Darfur State, after the mission harbored six IDPs that have been accused by Sudanese authorities of instigating the violence in Kalma.

UNAMID has since continued to shelter the six people, despite the government's demand that they be handed over to Sudanese officials.

"We insist to present the perpetrators to a fair trial. There is no room for courtesy in this respect whether with UNAMID or any other trend," the South Darfur State governor, Abdul-Hameed Musa Kasha, said at a press conference in Khartroum earlier this week.

Hara acknowledged UNAMID's role in resolving the situation. " The UN's position is correct, they cannot hand over IDPs without known what is going to happen to them."

According to the UN spokesman on Friday, UNAMID held a meeting with envoys of the Shura Council representing various ethnic groups to try and resolve the political and humanitarian situation in Kalma.


The humanitarian crisis in Darfur has spilled over into neighboring Chad, particularly in the eastern part of the country that is now home to around 255,000 Sudanese refugees.

With the UN mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad (MINURCAT) proceeding with plans to fully withdraw from both countries by the end of the year, concerns have risen over the protection of the displaced refugees.

However, it is difficult to measure impact MINURCAT's pullout will have on the situation, said Hara.

Established in 2007, MINURCAT is tasked to ensure the security of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur in both Chad and the CAR, along with other IDPs and humanitarian workers.

"Some 70 international humanitarian organizations continue to provide aid to the 255,000 Sudanese refugees and 168,000 IDPs in eastern Chad," the head of MINURCAT Youssef Mahmoud said in a briefing to the UN Security Council on Aug. 10.

Meanwhile, questions remain over the government of Chad's capacity to provide to provide adequate security and assistance to vulnerable people in the area.

The situation in both eastern Chad and the Kalma camp are " again, symptoms of bigger problem" in an increasingly complex situation, said Hara.

Source: Xinhua


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