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Deadly Government Bombing In Darfur

UN Receives Reports Of Deadly Government Bombing In Darfur, Arrest Of Aid Workers

New York, Oct 19 2006 6:00PM

Amid increasing insecurity in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region, the United Nations mission in the country has received reports that a Government aircraft bombed an area in North Darfur, killing an eight-year-old boy, and that two aid workers were arrested in the south of the region.

The reports to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said the aircraft “dropped an unconfirmed number of bombs” near Birmaza yesterday, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

Referring to the arrests in the south, he said that two staff members from an international non-governmental organization (NGO) had reportedly been arrested on Tuesday for taking photographs without the required permit. Separately, Mr. Dujarric also said that armed bandits had tried to break into an NGO compound in West Darfur.

As many as 2 million people are displaced within Darfur, a remote and impoverished region in western Sudan that has been beset by brutal fighting between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias and rebel groups since 2003. An estimated 200,000 others have been killed during that period.

Despite the deteriorating security situation, Mr. Dujarric said a new UN assessment had found that overall malnutrition rates in the region had “mostly stabilized this year,” while food insecurity had also improved slightly due to a stronger international response to the suffering there.

The survey, which sampled households from the 3.7 million people receiving aid out of the total 6 million people in Darfur, was undertaken by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

“Preliminary results… found that 70 per cent of war-affected Darfurians were food insecure, slightly down from 74 per cent last year. While the remaining 30 per cent of this year’s war-affected people required some form of assistance, they had more diverse diets, spent less than 50 per cent of their income on food, and relied lesson food aid, UNICEF said in a joint press release.

“The assessment also found that while the malnutrition rate among children under five rose slightly, from 11.9 per cent last year to 13.1 per cent this year, hovering just beneath the emergency threshold of 15 per cent, they remained significantly below the 2004 malnutrition rates in Darfur, which stood at 21.8 per cent.”

But the UN agencies cautioned that the continued flow of aid is under threat because of escalating violence, which is restricting access to war and drought-affected people, exacerbating the already fragile situation.

Furthermore, the number of families who said they could reach feeding centres for malnourished children had halved as the result of deteriorating security and because some feeding centres closed after malnutrition figures improved last year.

ends

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