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15,000 fled clashes, rebels in control of several towns East Darfur

April 12 - 2013 ED DAEIN

[CORRECTED] - An estimated 15,000 people were displaced following battles between rebel forces of SLA-Minni Minawi and the Sudanese army (SAF) last weekend in East Darfur, the UN humanitarian office published. The SLM-MM being the former ally of the Khartoum government now controls several towns, the UN confirmed.

According to the United Nations- African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), thousands of civilians have been displaced from their homes in the towns of Muhajeriya (Shaeria locality) and Labado (Yassin locality) in East Darfur, following fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan Liberation Army– Minni Minawi on 6 April. Some displaced people, along with their livestock, have taken refuge close to the UNAMID team sites.

The UN statement confirmed the reports of Radio Dabanga that many displaced civilians were scattered toward UN bases in Muhajeriya and Labado. The towns, according to government authorities, are in control of the SLA-MM. The UN mission in Darfur has received reports that civilians have also been arriving in Abu Hadid village, near Selea town in Yassin locality.

According to UN OCHA, the exact number of casualties and displaced cannot be determined due to the security situation.

For that UNAMID has not confirmed the number of displaced people as Radio Dabanga website initially stated. But UN OCHA says that the initial estimates by an NGO suggest up to 15,000 have been displaced. An inter-agency assessment mission will go to the two towns as soon as security allows.

According to UNAMID, Government authorities have confirmed that the SLA-MM has taken control of the two towns. Both Muhajeriya and Labado towns are located in strategic positions along main supply routes used by traders and humanitarians to move supplies from Khartoum through East Darfur to South Darfur, as UN OCHA describes.

Last week the governor of East Darfur affirmed SLA-MM had been expelled from the region, a claim the rebels called “false propaganda”. The total population of Muhajeriya and Labado towns before the fighting started was an estimated 67,000 people, according to the State Ministry of Health.

SLA-MM says it also seized the village of Ishma, located eight kilometres east of Nyala, capital of South Darfur, where they allegedly remain. 

File photo: 18 March 2011. A member of the coalition of rebel forces (Albert Gonzalez Farran/ UNAMID)

Related: Rebels deny expulsion of East Darfur battlefield by Sudan army (8 April 2013)

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