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Darfur: Humanitarian Flight Ban Restricting Relief

Humanitarian flight ban in West Darfur restricting relief assistance, UN says

25 February 2008 - Tens of thousands of Darfurians living in the west of the war-wracked Sudanese region are without access to humanitarian aid because of the continuing ban on relief flights to the area, the United Nations reported today.

The prohibition on all such flights to the north of West Darfur's state capital, El Geneina, has remained in place over the last week, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told journalists.

West Darfur has been the scene of the conflict's most intense fighting in recent months, and UN officials estimate that three quarters of the 80,000 civilians who have become displaced across Darfur since the start of this year come from that state.

Yesterday the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ameerah Haq, and the Joint Special Representative for the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Rodolphe Adada, issued a joint statement voicing grave concern for the safety of civilians in West Darfur's Jebel Muun, which has reportedly been subject to aerial bombing in recent days.

Ms. Haq and Mr. Adada appealed for an immediate end to the fighting and stressed that "the solution to Darfur's problems can never be a military one."

More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others displaced since 2003 because of fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed. UNAMID was deployed at the start of this year to try to quell the violence and suffering.

Ms. Montas warned today that Darfurians are also facing food insecurity in some areas because of bad crops which, in combination with the harassment by militiamen, is spurring major population movements towards the camps housing internally displaced persons (IDPs).

ENDS

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