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Full And Unhindered Access to Darfur Camp

UN Humanitarian Chief Urges Full And Unhindered Access to Darfur Camp

New York, Aug 13 2010 7:10PM The United Nations humanitarian chief today called for immediate access to a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan’s Darfur region that has been closed off to aid workers for nearly two weeks, voicing concern about the needs of the 82,000 people residing there.

“I am extremely concerned about the welfare of the IDPs at Kalma camp, to whom we have not been able to deliver relief for 13 days,” said John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

The Kalma camp in South Darfur has been the scene of recent tensions following the conclusion of the latest round of peace talks in Doha, Qatar, with some groups contending they were unrepresented. Thousands of IDPs took part in deadly protests in the camp.

In addition, Government officials in South Darfur are demanding that the joint UN-AU peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID, hand over six local leaders – five men and one woman – who sought protection at the mission’s community policing centre (CPC) outside the camp following last week’s protests.

A UNAMID team that visited Kalma on Tuesday reported that large parts of the camp appeared deserted, the inhabitants having left for either the CPC or one of the surrounding villages. UN humanitarian agencies and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have aid programmes in Kalma are still being prevented from entering the camp by local authorities on the ground, despite recent reassurances that such restrictions had not been imposed, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a news release.

“We need immediate access so we can respond to the needs and conditions of those remaining there. We also need to find out how many people have left, and where they have gone, in order to provide relief to them too,” said Mr. Holmes, adding that many thousands of IDPs from Kalma remain unaccounted for.

UN agencies and NGOs are prepared to resume humanitarian operations immediately to provide the IDPs with the necessary food, water and sanitation, health, nutritional support, shelter and non-food items.

OCHA noted that constraints on aid agencies operating in the strife-torn region have been steadily increasing since March 2009, when 11 international NGOs were expelled from Darfur, where some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed and another 2.7 million others displaced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003 between rebel groups and Government forces backed by Janjaweed militiamen.

Two staff members from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were also expelled last month.

In addition to the obstruction of aid efforts at Kalma camp, approximately 100,000 people affected by fighting in the eastern Jebel Marra region have been unreachable since February, it added.

“The United Nations has been in close contact with the relevant Sudanese authorities to restore access to both Kalma and eastern Jebel Marra, but until today progress has not been forthcoming,” said Mr. Holmes.

If access is not urgently restored, the situation could deteriorate rapidly, he warned.

ENDS

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