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US urges Sudan to allow humanitarian access in Darfur

February 8, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The US administration said it was deeply alarmed by the recent surge of violence in Darfur and called on the Sudanese government to grant unfettered humanitarian access to all the region to deliver aid to needy civilians.

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US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland (photo State Dept)

US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a statement released on Friday that recent tribal fighting in North Darfur and clashes between the Sudanese army (SAF) and rebels in Jebel Marra displaced over 100,000 people who are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The US diplomat pointed out that the number of civilians displaced in Darfur by the increase of violence in January 2013 is more than the total figures for 2012.

“To meet the humanitarian needs of those affected by these clashes, we call on the Sudanese government to grant UN agencies unrestricted access to all areas of Darfur”, Nuland said. She further appealed to Khartoum to work closely with the UN agencies and UNAMID in order to deliver humanitarian aid.

Clashes erupted in two areas in Jebel Marra in the last week of December 2012 when fighters from the Sudan Liberation Movement – Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW) took control of Jaldo and Golo in Central Darfur state.

UNAMID said both the Sudanese army and the SLM-AW have blocked humanitarian teams from reaching displaced civilians. However, the rebel group denied such restrictions and expressed a willingness to cooperate with UN agencies to deliver food to the needy.

In separate clashes on 5 January this year, fighting erupted in the Jebel Amir area, North Darfur state, between the Abbala and Beni Hussein tribes over control of the region’s lucrative gold mines.

The tribal clashes resulted in the mass displacement of some 70,000 people according to government figures. However, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that at least 100,000 people have been displaced or affected by the fighting.

UNAMID reacted promptly to the humanitarian situation and sought to reach civilians who had fled en masse to Kabkabiya, Saraf Omra and Al Sereif towns.

However, in a report released on 11 January, the joint mission said Beni Hussein tribesman had prevented a verification patrol from reaching Jebel Amer on 7 January.

Nuland has further urged the Sudanese government to disarm militias in Darfur, to end air attacks and to implement the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur “as the basis for a more inclusive and effective peace process”.

(ST)