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Sudan: UN Field Workers Report Fresh Attacks

Sudan: UN Field Workers Report Fresh Attacks By Janjaweed Militias In Darfur

Arab Janjaweed militias continue to attack villages in the south of Sudan's Darfur region, burning and looting homes on Monday and reportedly killing six civilians, United Nations field workers say.

Staff from UN agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) operating in the region say nearby army and police did nothing to intervene during the attacks, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told a press briefing today.

Mr. Eckhard said there have been reports of banditry and other acts of violence in the north and west of the vast Darfur region, and that concerns are mounting about the safety of aid workers.

Last month a UN human rights report found that the Sudanese Government and the Janjaweed, who have been recruited and armed by Khartoum, conducted with a "reign of terror" in Darfur against the region's black African population. The report found many human rights violations, including killings, rapes, pillaging, destruction of property and ethnic displacement.

The Sudanese Government and two Darfur rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), reached a ceasefire agreement in April. But there have been numerous reported attacks by the Janjaweed since then.

UN agencies and NGOs have stepped up their relief efforts in recent weeks as the rainy season begins in Darfur and neighbouring eastern Chad, where more than 150,000 refugees are living. At least 1 million people are estimated to be internally displaced within Darfur.

Mr. Eckhard said aid groups are pre-positioning food and shelter items, and helping to provide clean water and sanitation to impromptu camps that have formed recently.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme said today it will have to halt its humanitarian air service between the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, and the country's east unless it receives an urgent infusion of funds.

So far WFP has received about $550,000 of the $1.8 million it needs to run the air service - which is the only secure link during the current rainy season - for the rest of the year.

The air service, which transports humanitarian workers to remote refugee camps as well as medicines, food and other relief supplies, has been running since February.

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