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Sudan denies preventing humanitarian access to Jebel Marra

A photo released on 1 March 2018 showing an UNAMID integrated team conducts a humanitarian and security assessment mission to Golo and Rokero, Central Darfur ( UNAMID Photo)

March 6, 2019 (KHARTOUM) The Sudanese government on Tuesday denied accusations that it prevents aid groups from reaching the rebel-held areas in Jebel Marra to provide assistance for the needy population.

The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) led by Abdel-Wahid al-Nur has accused the government of denying aid organization access to areas under its control in Jebel Marra.

However, the Humanitarian Aid Commissioner in Central Darfur State Ismail Adam Mohamed has dismissed the accusations as baseless, saying the aid groups are carrying out their work as usual.

He told the semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) that the leader of the SLM-AW is trying to stir up public opinion and draw the sympathy of the international community.

Mohamed added the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) dug a number of water wells in SLM-AW controlled-areas in eastern Jebel Marra as well as providing food and seeds to the residents.

He pointed out that several aid groups have visited the SLM-AW held-areas in Jebel Marra during the past two months, saying the UNAMID, WFP, UNICEF and ICRC have also conducted surveys at the rebel areas.

The Sudanese army has been fighting armed groups in Darfur since 2003. UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict, and over 2.5 million were displaced.

On 12 April 2017, the Sudanese army declared Darfur a region free of rebellion following the capture of Srounq area, the last SLM-AW stronghold in Jebel Marra. However, the army continued for several months to carry out attacks on rebel’s pockets in the mountainous area.

Between March and June 2018, heavy clashes occurred between the two sides forcing thousands of residents to flee their villages in Central and South Darfur areas of Jebel Marra.

Jebel Marra, which spans over three states including North, Central and South Darfur, is located in a water-rich area that is characterised by a mild climate.

In 2017, the UN Security Council decided to reduce the UNAMID, admitting that the security situation has improved but it decided to reinforce its presence in Jebel Marra because there is no cessation of hostilities as the SLM-AW refuses to declare it unilaterally or to engage in peace negotiations.

The SLM-AW rejects to take part in the peace process and demands that the government disbands its militias, protect civilians and pay financial compensations before to engage in a peace process to address the root causes of the 15-year conflict.

(ST)