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Darfur people still fleeing janjaweed militia - UN

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March 14, 2007 (CAIRO) — More than 78,500 Darfurians fled their homes in January and February, most to escape attacks from government forces and the janjaweed militias, a U.N. report Wednesday said. But increasing fighting among tribes has also fueled the exodus.

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Internal displaced Sudanese sit on a vehicle with their belongings as they travel inside Aboushouk camp in Sudan’s Darfur province April 16, 2005. (Reuters).

The U.N. has said some 2.2 million people have been displaced by the violence in the region of western Sudan, where rebel forces have been battling government troops and the pro-government janjaweed for more than three years. More than 200,000 people have been killed.

Attacks from government forces or Arab janjaweed militiamen caused more than 34,000 people to flee in the first two months of the year, according to the U.N’s Sudan Humanitarian Overview report, posted on the Internet.

The report also showed Darfur civilians face increasing violence from former rebels who signed the Darfur peace deal and are now part of the government. This, observers say, could be a blow to the already shaky peace deal.

More than 15,000 of those who fled were escaping attacks from attacks by the Sudan Liberation Army faction of Minni Minnawi the only rebel leader to sign on to the Darfur Peace Agreement with the government last May, the report said.

Also worsening is intertribal fighting, including battles within Arab tribes in Darfur _ Sudan’s embattled western region the size of France _ which pushed out more than a third of those who fled, the report said.

Mike McDonagh of the U.N.’s office for coordination of humanitarian affairs in Darfur, said that while the intertribal fighting has "nothing to do with the conflict in Darfur," its surge has perplexed observers.

"Tribes have always fought each other," but it is unclear why it seems to have increased now, he said, adding, "Numbers have always been a big mystery in Darfur."

In the latter half of February, the AU peacekeepers in Sudan documented at least 100 deaths due to tribal clashes in western Sudan, according to the U.N. news agency IRIN.

"It is yet another source of displacement," McDonagh said. "But the bulk of the displacement is still caused by the janjaweed."

Another 6,000 people fled in the first two weeks of March, he said.

Darfur’s conflict began in 2003 when members of the region’s ethnic African tribes took up arms against what they saw as decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.

In a tactic the United States has characterized as genocidal, the Khartoum government is accused of unleashing a pro-government Arab militia, known as the janjaweed, that has committed many of the worst atrocities in the conflict.

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