Statement attributable to the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ms. Marta Ruedas, on the recent conflict in Darfur

By Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

The United Nations today expressed grave concern over the impact of the ongoing hostilities in Darfur on thousands of civilians who have been forced to flee their homes amid the conflict that began two weeks ago. Initial reports indicate that about 19,000 civilians have fled into North Darfur state, and up to 15,000 into Central Darfur state, following fighting in the mountainous Jebel Marra region that straddles three Darfur states.

Some humanitarian assistance, including nutritional supplements for children, medicine and purified water, has been provided to some of the newly displaced people — the vast majority of whom are women and children — in North Darfur, and the humanitarian community is working to provide emergency relief to those displaced in Central Darfur. The lack of access is preventing the immediate provision of aid.

“The protection of civilians remains our paramount concern during conflict,” said the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ms. Marta Ruedas. “While it is encouraging that some humanitarian assistance is being provided, clearly much more is needed and we are working with our national and international partners on the ground to ascertain how the vulnerable can be helped during this time. We are therefore advocating for safe and unfettered access to provide timely assistance to those in need.”

While the exact number of civilians who have fled the Jebel Marra is yet to be confirmed, there are also unverified reports of other civilians having sought refuge deeper into the Jebel Marra area.

In the context of providing humanitarian emergency assistance, the international humanitarian community is guided by — among other frameworks - the UN General Assembly resolution 46/182 (December 1991), which outlines a framework for humanitarian assistance and a set of guiding principles.