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Efforts to ease tensions at Darfur camp continue, UN-African Union mission reports

By UN

3 August - A senior official with the joint United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur is again visiting a camp for displaced persons in a bid to ease recent tensions there following deadly violence between supporters and opponents of the ongoing peace process.

It is the third visit in as many days to the massive Kalma camp in Nyala, South Darfur, for Mohammed Yonis, the Deputy Joint Special Representative at the mission, known as UNAMID.

Tensions in Kalma rose last week after the conclusion of the latest round of peace talks in Doha, Qatar, with some groups contending they were unrepresented. The camp was the scene of violent protests on Thursday in which hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) demonstrated.

UNAMID said that a reconciliation committee has been mediating a peaceful settlement between the opposing sides.

Discussions are also continuing concerning 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.

Government officials in South Darfur state have demanded that the mission hand them over.

Christopher Cycmanick, a spokesperson for UNAMID, described the situation as “complicated” and said that the mission is continuing discussions to ensure that it handles the matter properly.

“We want to make sure that everything is fine if they are released to the Government,” he said in an interview with UN Radio.

“But technically, it's a very fine line that we are walking because they have gone to ask for assistance or help and they have already been at the CPC for more than 48 hours,” he stated.

“Also, we are working in a sovereign country. We will at some point have to honour their request. We just want to make sure that things are handled properly.”

Meanwhile, the mission noted that a UN-led humanitarian assessment team has received authorization from the Sudanese Government to enter the Kalma camp, which is home to more than 100,000 IDPs.

As many as 2.7 million Darfurians live as IDPs or as refugees in neighbouring countries as a result of the seven-year-old conflict in the western region of Sudan that has also resulted in an estimated 300,000 deaths.