World Bulletin/News Desk
United Nations and African Union officials sounded an alarm on Thursday over the worsening violence in Sudan's western Darfur region, which has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people this year in the remote, conflict-torn territory.
The expressions of concern came as a U.S. activist group released an analysis of new satellite images that it said showed signs of devastation in an area of Darfur in which Khartoum-backed Janjaweed fighters were recently present.
Joseph Mutaboba, deputy head of the joint U.N. peacekeeping mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID, and Ali Al-Za'tari, U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, issued a joint statement that said it had become extremely difficult to deliver aid to the needy people of Darfur.
"In the last month, a wave of violence has been underway in Darfur, affecting tens of thousands of people," they said. "Since the beginning of 2014, more than 215,000 people in Darfur have been displaced from their homes. Many people in Darfur have no choice but to flee their homes in fear."
"We call upon the Government of Sudan and all actors and parties involved in the conflict and the international community to take robust measures to ensure the protection of civilians and unimpeded access of aid workers in Darfur," they said.
Earlier this month the United States accused the Sudanese government of obstructing peacekeepers in Darfur, where it said civilians were being "terrorized, displaced, and killed" despite the presence of one of the world's biggest peacekeeping missions. It also urged UNAMID to be more aggressive in implementing its mandate to protect civilians.
Dozens have been killed in Darfur in recent weeks in fighting between rebels and security forces.
Earlier this week senior U.N. humanitarian official John Ging told reporters that there had been nearly 400,000 newly displaced in Darfur in 2013. The displacements have continued.
Mutaboba and Za'tari's statement said the United Nations and wider humanitarian community were increasingly unable to deliver relief to the people of Darfur.
"Due to the access restrictions and security constraints placed upon humanitarian agencies, even monitoring the numbers of people who have been displaced from their homes is increasingly challenging," they said.
The Satellite Sentinel Project, a U.S. activist group, issued a report that said new DigitalGlobe satellite imagery from March 21 show at least 17 bomb craters and 311 burned homes across six villages in the mountainous Jebel Marra area.
"This new incarnation of Janjaweed fighters, now re-named the Rapid Support Forces but still supported by the Khartoum government, are now attacking Darfuri civilians and torching homes on a scale not seen since 2003," said the group's co-founder, John Prendergast.
Prendergast is a former U.S. State Department official who also co-founded the Enough Project, an anti-genocide group that has been active on the issue of Sudan and South Sudan.
Sudan's U.N. ambassador did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
There are 14,500 troops and 4,500 police on the ground. The conflict in Darfur has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced 2 million, according to the United Nations.
Khartoum puts the Darfur death toll at around 10,000.Last Mod: 28 Mart 2014, 10:39