Listen to article

12 August - The United Nations is voicing concern that outbreaks of infectious diseases such as malaria could soon erupt in a massive camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur that has been the scene of recent deadly violence and is currently closed off to humanitarian workers.

Aid groups are still awaiting authorization to enter Kalma camp, home to more than 100,000 people as a result of the continuing conflict in Darfur, the joint African Union-UN peacekeeping mission to the region (known as UNAMID) reported today.

The camp currently has no operating health-care facility because the medical professionals who would staff them are based in Nyala, the nearby South Darfur state capital, as they await permission to enter.

UNAMID said concerns were rising that infectious diseases – particularly malaria – could emerge in the camp because of heavy rains in the region, coupled with pools of stagnant water and a lack of both shelter and mosquito nets.

Aid workers are also unable to deliver and distribute food rations for August, while stocks of fuel – which is needed to pump clean water – are running low as well.

The mission reported that while no gunfire was heard overnight in the camp, the situation there remains tense and insecure.

The number of camp residents seeking shelter around the mission's nearby community policing centre (CPC) seems to have decreased.

About 5,000 people near the CPC are without adequate shelter during the current rainy season, although police serving with UNAMID have been able to deliver large tents to help some of them.

Sudanese authorities cut off humanitarian access after protests and deadly clashes erupted recently in Kalma following the conclusion of the latest round of Darfur peace talks in Doha, Qatar, with some IDPs contending they were unrepresented.

Government officials in South Darfur are demanding that UNAMID hand over six local leaders – five men and one woman – who sought protection at the CPC following the protests.

A team from UNAMID that visited Kalma yesterday has reported that large parts of the camp appeared deserted, the inhabitants having left for either the CPC or one of the surrounding villages.

Yesterday the Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari, and the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Sudan, Georg Charpentier, travelled to Kalma for meetings with local authorities in a bid to resolve the tensions.