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Fresh fighting in Sudan, 33,000 threatened

Fresh fighting in Sudan's Darfur region threatens 33,000 people

Fresh fighting in Sudan's embattled Darfur region is threatening 33,000 civilians who were receiving humanitarian assistance from three international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) whose staff have been withdrawn, and the United Nations mission in the country today called on the combatants to show restraint.

The humanitarian impact is potentially serious in the town of Shareya, between North and South Darfur, where the fighting has occurred, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said on the eve of a briefing to the Security Council by Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative in the country, Jan Pronk.

The Mission also reported that the security situation in the Kalma camp housing internally displaced persons (IDPs) has further deteriorated with a large number of security incidents, including some 60 reported attacks on women over the last week alone.

On a more positive note the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today it had distributed food to 2.45 million people in August, a record, despite challenges which included insecurity and the rainy season.

Insecurity was on the increase, spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume told a news briefing in Geneva. Four WFP drivers had been killed in Darfur this year and others had been attacked and the food they were carrying had been seized.

WFP needs $40 million to continue its food distribution in the region where the two-and-a-half-year conflict has killed scores of thousands of people and displaced close to 2 million people within Darfur as well as driving more than 200,000 others into Chad.

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