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Immediate Access To Wounded In N. Darfur Urged

Senior UN relief official urges immediate access to wounded in North Darfur

6 May 2008 – Voicing her deep concern about the reported attacks on villages in North Darfur, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan has called for immediate access to the affected areas to provide assistance and medical evacuation for the injured.

In Oslo for the Sudan Consortium, which is evaluating progress in implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South Sudan, Ameerah Haq joined delegate after delegate in calling for an immediate end to the attacks in North Darfur, which have left three dead and at least eight injured in recent days.

“I am deeply perturbed by the reported bombings of a school, water installations and a market where civilians, especially women and children are present. It is essential that we have immediate humanitarian access to the affected populations in order to provide humanitarian assistance and medical evacuation,” said Ms. Haq.

The joint UN-African Union (AU) hybrid mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID, has mobilized helicopters and medical evacuation teams to evacuate casualties. The mission said it successfully airlifted wounded civilians, “following SAF [Sudanese forces] air attacks on the village of Umm Sidir in North Darfur” on Thursday.

Yesterday General Martin Luther Agwai, UNAMID’s Force Commander and the Chairman of the Ceasefire Commission (CFC), said the reported bombings of villages, markets and populated areas in Umm Sidir, Ein Bassar and Shegeg Karo are unacceptable acts against civilians, compounding the extent of displacement, insecurity and untold human suffering.

In addition, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it is also deeply concerned at reports that a number of children have been killed during the attacks, and called on the Government forces and the other parties to the ongoing conflict to take every necessary action to prevent future deaths or injuries amongst children.

UNICEF reminded all parties to the conflict that under international conventions, children are to be afforded special protection during military operations and urged that every effort be made to ensure that schools, health centres and other such humanitarian facilities are considered as zones of peace.

The conflict in Darfur – which have claimed more than 200,000 lives and displaced nearly 2.5 million others since 2003 – has taken a high toll on children. UNICEF estimates that half of the conflict-affected population in Darfur are children – including at least one million who have been displaced by fighting.

ENDS

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