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300,000 displaced in Darfur conflict, UN says

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May 23, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Fighting in Sudan’s western Darfur region has resulted into the displacement of 300,000 people in the last five months of this year, the United Nations estimates.

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Valerie Amos speaks at a press conference during her recent visit to Sudan (UN photo)

This number "is more than the total number of people displaced in the last two years put together" said Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs in a press conference held in Khartoum on Thursday.

Amos who visited Zamzam camp for the internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) near the North Darfur capital said she was sorry to realise that people are still suffer from a lack of adequate basic services since ten years ago when the conflict started.

"I was particularly shocked when we visited some of the new arrivals in ZamZam camp. I saw people who had recently fled fighting in South Darfur sheltering under small pieces of tarpaulin in the hot desert sun, in desperate conditions", she further stressed.

Amos, who also doubles as the agency’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, was on a three-day visit to Sudan to assess the humanitarian operations in the North African country.

The top UN official, during her visit, also met the Sudanese president, Omer Al-Bashir and other senior government officials in Khartoum and Darfur, as well as partners from UN member states, non-governmental organisations and other UN agencies.

“In all my meetings I have stressed the desire of the international community to assist in meeting the needs of war-affected people in Sudan,” Valerie said.

Sudan faces lots of humanitarian challenges worsened by the ongoing fighting in Darfur, unresolved conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and recent rebel attacks that have spread recently to North Kordofan.

The situation, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator said, has resulted into a “massive” displacement crisis, and high levels of malnutrition in many parts of the country, including Eastern Sudan, where some of the highest malnutrition rates have been recorded.

She also expressed concerns about the decreasing funding levels for humanitarian assistance in Sudan, citing the ongoing conflicts, competing needs in other countries, and a difficult global economic environment.

“We have a serious funding crisis in Sudan. We need to attract more funds from our traditional donors, but we also need to expand our partnerships and attract funding from other Governments in the region and elsewhere,” Valerie said.

Amos also accused rebel movements of being responsible for the crimes committed on civilians in following their recent attacks in North and South Kordofan states.

“I was shocked to hear detailed reports of the recent attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Sudan Revolutionary Front in Northern Kordofan and parts of South Kordofan. I condemn these attacks on civilians in the strongest terms,” she said.

Meanwhile, the senior UN official welcomed the Darfur donors’ conference, which she described as a more sustainable ways of supporting about 1.4 million displaced people who have no other option, but to remain in the camps.

Up to US$ 3.6 billion in pledges for Darfur, including a commitment of US$ 2.6 billion from the Government of Sudan, was raised at the conference held in Qatar last April.

(ST)

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