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Mass displacement following North Darfur tribal clashes

By United Nations - African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
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EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, January 17, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is committed to engaging with all stakeholders to address the current humanitarian needs of thousands of civilians who were displaced in the North Darfur villages of Saraf Omra, Kabkabya and El Sereif.

The commitment comes following a two-day assessment mission to assess the security and humanitarian situation and to verify reports of fighting, which UNAMID received on 6 January, between the Abbala and Beni Hussein tribes in the Jabel Amir area of North Darfur.

On 13 and 14 January, UNAMID deployed a team, consisting of civilian, military and police personnel, to the three affected areas. The team found evidence of mass displacement, including those displaced from their homes in villages around El Sereif, along with workers who said they had fled from the work sites at the Jabel Amir gold mines as a result of the fighting. According to Government figures, an estimated 70,000 people have been displaced and more than 100 killed since the clashes broke out.

Many of the displaced interviewed in the aftermath of the violence indicated their most urgent needs include access to health care, water, food and other basic items, most notably shelter and blankets. In response, UNAMID is now supporting mediation and reconciliation initiatives between the two tribes and is transporting medical supplies and other critical items to those in need.

In addition, the Mission is conducting security escorts to facilitate humanitarian access and is stepping up daily patrols in El Sereif, the area most affected by the tribal clashes. During the past week, the Mission has conducted several medical evacuations for wounded Darfuris in the affected area, and has provided full logistics support to the local mediation teams working to reduce the tensions in Jabel Amir.

“The protection of Darfur's people is at the heart of UNAMID's mandate,” said Acting Joint Special Representative (JSR) and Joint Chief Mediator a.i., Aïchatou Mindaoudou. “It is why we are here and what we focus on each and every day, as we attempt to elevate the lives of Darfuris caught in the conflict across the region.”

UNAMID's ongoing mission, the Acting JSR went on to say, is to facilitate a lasting, durable peace that includes protection from violence. “I urge all parties to enable both UNAMID, UN agencies and their humanitarian partners to be given full access to all areas of Darfur, so affected populations can receive needed protection and assistance,” said Ms. Mindaoudou.

During the past several months, UNAMID has been directly engaged in addressing the recent uptick in tribal clashes and other forms of violence across Darfur. These efforts have included extensive reconciliation and mediation activities, an increase in the number of daily security patrols to hotspot areas, and a broad spectrum of logistics support to the humanitarian community.

In addition to these efforts, UNAMID has bolstered its protection of civilians strategy with a revamped Darfur-wide early-warning and response mechanism designed to address populations in need by reaching them quickly through the rapid formation of response teams. These efforts, along with the early-warning mechanism, are designed to strengthen UNAMID's ability to prevent violence, to proactively address emerging situations and to react to humanitarian and protection needs.