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Yet Another Attack On Aid Workers In Darfur

Gunmen Launch Yet Another Attack On Aid Workers In Darfur, UN Reports

Two gunmen equipped with AK-47 assault rifles and a hand grenade stopped a humanitarian convoy in Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur region today, beat up the aid workers and stole money in the latest of a long series of such assaults that are impeding relief operations, the United Nations reported.

The non-governmental organization (NGO) convoy of three vehicles with six local staff was stopped this morning in South Darfur on its way from Nyala, the provincial capital, to Kalma internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, the joint UN-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said in a statement. The gunmen forced it to drive down to a nearby gully.

“Although the workers complied without resistance to demands for money, the attackers assaulted them up before leaving the scene,” it added “Three out of the six workers were reportedly severely beaten and taken to the local hospital, where their condition is listed as stable and non life-threatening.”

Initial reports suggest that the assailants were informed of the workers’ movements and that they were transporting cash intended for the payment of salaries for the Kalma camp staff.

“If proven right, these suspicions would point to an act of banditry,” UNAMID added.

Just yesterday, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes told the Security Council that 261 vehicles had been hijacked and 172 compounds broken into so far this year. Rebel movements, or those linked to them, appear primarily responsible for the majority of “these terrifying incidents” in rural areas, but many also occur in main towns in Government control, he said.

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“I call on both the Government security forces and rebel leaders to put a stop to this banditry once and for all,” he added. “It seriously damages the quality of assistance – just as one example, World Food Programme (WFP) rations are still only at 70 per cent because of attacks on their convoys and it damages the credibility of their promises to ensure our safety.

UNAMID, slated to reach 26,000 personnel but now only 10,500-strong, is being deployed throughout Darfur in an effort to bring peace to a region where more than five years of fighting between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militia and rebel groups have killed an estimated 300,000 people and driven another 2.7 million from their homes.

ENDS

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