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Water shortage foreseen at huge Darfur camp

March 19, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – Zam Zam camp, the largest displaced persons camp in Darfur, faces a water shortage after over 30,000 people newly arrived and the government ousted the two aid agencies that provided water services to the camp.

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Internally displaced women carry firewood to Kalma Camp, near Nyala in Darfur in this handout photograph released by MSF, April 3, 2008 (Reuters)

The camp was only built to accommodate 30,000, but according to the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which made a statement yesterday, the rising number of new arrivals brings the camp population to about 80,000.

The majority of the newcomers are from villages and other civilian camps in South Darfur, where rebels and government forces clashed in January, but there are also arrivals from Shangil Tobaya in North Darfur. The camp residents are usually referred to as IDPs, for internally displaced persons.

UNAMID remarked that it has provided 100,000 litres of water to the camp residents and expects to provide more in the coming days. In addition, UNAMID has also provided four bladders to be used for water storage.

However, in Al Salaam Camp, also located near El Fasher, sanitation trucks servicing some 600 latrines have halted their services because the foreign NGO that operated them is expelled.

The United States, whose chargé d’affaires was participating in a humanitarian assessment visit to Darfur, claimed that “the arrival of over 36,000 IDPs fleeing recent fighting in South Darfur between rebels and the government has severely strained camp resources.”

In a statement issued by their embassy in Khartoum, the Americans said “there is a growing water shortage due to the demand created by recent IDP arrivals and the lack of available water resources at the camp. In addition, the influx of new IDPs has created a need for more land to accommodate the overflow.”

UNAMID reports that the military situation in Darfur remains relatively calm, but also has continued to report daily attacks against their forces.

(ST)