(By Radio Dabanga)
The UN nor any other international humanitarian organization has access to the Darfur warzone in Jebel Marra, where during the last days hundreds of people have been reportedly killed during clashes between government militias and inter faction fighting within the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM). The last organization that had to move out, was Medicins du Monde due to attacks. Witnesses reported Radio Dabanga last week that the clashes had flared up, but the spokes office of the Darfur peacekeeping force UNAMID was not able to confirm any information coming from the area. Also the humanitarian office of the UN, UNOCHA could not confirm since none the UN organization had access to the remote are. Last week, the international observers were celebrating a new framework agreement towards peace in Darfur between the government and one of the rebel factions, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). President Bashir announced last week that the war in Darfur ‘was over’. Today the JEM walked away from the negotiating table, after the government started also bilateral peace talks with other rebel factions.
The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) denied that they are involved in the attacks at local markets and villages, but the rebel groups of the SLA told Radio Dabanga that the government is behind the fighting. The SLA counted 340 tot 360 confirmed dead casualties, but Radio Dabanga did not receive independent confirmation. Reuters cited non identified UN sources confirming a figure between 140 and 400 people killed in the last battle. Radio Dabanga was not able to get a clear picture what caused the most victims. Some local observers say that some inter factional fighting also contributed to the death toll. But they all mention government militia being involved in a range of attacks.
Before the weekend, the NGO Médecins du Monde, had been forced to suspend its medical activities throughout the area Deribat in the Feina region after a severe attack. The fighting has raged for several days. Deribat is a town of 50 000 inhabitants and was attacked last Wednesday as reported by Radio Dabanga. Médecins du Monde says the fighting was triggering a ‘massive exodus’ by the population and bringing the total number of displaced people in the region to over 100 000.
Médecins du Monde says it is deeply concerned about the health-related consequences of these population displacements: lack of access to healthcare, inadequate access to drinking water, risk of outbreaks of meningitis and the early arrival of the “hunger gap” this year linked to poor harvests that threatens to increase the incidence of acute malnutrition, particularly among children under five. Médecins du Monde condemned the looting carried out at the Feina health centre on 18th February that has deprived the area’s 30 000 inhabitants of their only efficient healthcare facility. A week before due to fighting in the areas of Kidingeer and Leiba, the organisation was already obliged to evacuate its foreign aid workers from the Jebel Mara on 11th February.