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JOINT UN-AFRICAN MISSION INVESTIGATING FURTHER CLASHES IN NORTH DARFUR

By UN

10 January - The joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said today it is investigating further clashes in an area where thousands of people have already been displaced by recent fighting between Sudanese Government forces and rebels.

According to a UNAMID patrol to Tabit village, 37 kilometres northwest of Shangil Tobaya in North Darfur state, exchanges of fire took place on Friday between government troops and forces of the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi (SLA/MM).

The mission is looking into the incident, in which three people are believed to have been killed, UNAMID said in an update.

Meanwhile, a joint humanitarian assessment mission to Shangil Tobaya, led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and in which UNAMID took part, reported today that although the situation has stabilized, further assistance is needed.

There are now an estimated 30,000 people displaced in and around the area following recent clashes. At least 3,000 have gathered outside the UNAMID team site, which has since provided them with protection, water and limited medical assistance.

Food distribution continues and, while some cases of malnutrition were confirmed, general health is reportedly stable and under control, said the mission.

UNAMID's team site clinic treated a daily average of 25-30 patients. A clinic, operated by an international aid group, recently resumed operations, which had been previously suspended due to insecurity.

The findings of the assessment mission, which included members from a number of national and international relief agencies, will be carefully reviewed by national authorities, humanitarian agencies and UNAMID for a more efficient response.

UNAMID has repeatedly urged both Government forces and rebel movements to ensure safe access for humanitarian groups to displaced persons in Shangil Tobaya, as well as Khor Abeche and Shaeria, where thousands have fled to the mission's team sites after recent fighting.

The mission has been working for the past three years to quell the violence in Darfur, where at least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million others driven from their homes as a result of fighting.