The United Nations’ top humanitarian official in New York said that Sudanese authorities continue to block relief efforts to eastern Jebel Marra, closed to aid workers since February, and to Kalma Camp, closed since 2 August.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, said that constraints on access have blocked aid agencies from Kalma Camp and surrounding areas in South Darfur. His statement, which was publicized by the UN humanitarian coordination office in Khartoum (OCHA Sudan), noted that 82.000 people are affected by the blockade of Kalma Camp. That figure is a conservative UN World Food Programme estimate of the camp population, and refers to its size before a large number of residents fled during violence that peaked on 25 July.
“The United Nations has been in close contact with the relevant Sudanese authorities to restore access to both Kalma and Eastern Jebel Marra, but until today progress has not been forthcoming,” said Holmes. “If access is not urgently restored, the situation risks deteriorating rapidly.” Approximately 100,000 people affected by fighting in the Eastern Jebel Marra region have been unreachable since February, according to OCHA Sudan.
Five international NGOs and UN humanitarian agencies which have humanitarian programmes in Kalma are still being prevented from entering the camp by local authorities on the ground, according to OCHA Sudan. “The main areas of assistance required by the IDPs are food, water and sanitation, health, nutritional support, shelter and non-food items. UN agencies and NGOs are prepared to resume humanitarian operations immediately,” said the UN coordination agency.
“I am extremely concerned about the welfare of the IDPs at Kalma camp, to whom we have not been able to deliver relief for 13 days,” said Holmes. “Deliveries of food and fuel for water pumps have for example not been possible. Sanitation is also a major concern as it is the middle of the rainy season. Many thousands of IDPs from Kalma remain unaccounted for. We need immediate access so we can respond to the needs and conditions of those remaining there. We also need to find out how many people have left, and where they have gone, in order to provide relief to them too.”
OCHA Sudan further noted that “constraints on aid agencies operating in the Darfur region of Sudan have been steadily increasing since March 2009, when 11 international NGOs were expelled from Darfur. Two International Organization for Migration (IOM) staff were also expelled on 17 July 2010. In addition to the obstruction of aid efforts at Kalma camp, humanitarian personnel and assets in Darfur also continue to be regular targets of violence. A trend of abductions of humanitarian workers which started last year is particularly alarming. One humanitarian worker who was kidnapped on 18 May remains in captivity in South Darfur. None of the perpetrators of these attacks have been charged.”