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Insecurity prevents Darfur displaced from returning home

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December 1, 2007 (NYALA) — UN humanitarian chief, who visited Darfur camps, said displaced people are willing to leave the camps but security conditions are not yet suitable for return to their villages, the UN humanitarian office said yesterday.

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John Holmes

John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, travelled to south Darfur Friday and met with internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ed Daein camp, home to some 50,000 people.

“Clearly after living in camps, in some cases, for over three years they are frustrated. While they expressed a strong desire to return to their home areas, all the people I spoke with were unequivocal that they would only be able to do so when security conditions were right and services were in place,” said Holmes.

One woman told the UN aid top official that women were the first victims of the conflict. “We have lost husbands, villages and families and we are still not safe even to go to town, collect firewood, and this has been the situation for the last four years,” she said.

Holmes also had a short meeting with the governor in Nyala, where concerns of mutual interest were expressed, and will follow up with further substantive discussions.

United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations and local government also voiced concern about the potential of a serious food gap, even as early as January, as a result of early indications of a potentially poor food harvest due to infestations, birds and poor rainfall.

In meetings with aid workers, continuing challenges concerning access, safety and security of staff, and viability of programmes were raised against a background of increased security related incidents including car hijackings, assault and harassment. Many organisations also expressed their frustration at bureaucratic impediments which continue to hamper an effective and efficient response.

On Saturday, the Emergency Relief Coordinator will leave Nyala for El Fashir in north Darfur to hold meetings with United Nations staff and partners on the ground as well as local authorities.

Homes is expected to brief the UN Security Council this month on the humanitarian situation in Darfur IDPs camps and in refugees camps in the neighboring Chad.

(ST)

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