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US Embassy calls for access to Central Darfur

March 4 - 2016 EL FASHER
US Embassy chargé d’affaires ad interim Benjamin Moeling in Sennar (US Embassy in Khartoum)
US Embassy chargé d’affaires ad interim Benjamin Moeling in Sennar (US Embassy in Khartoum)

The United States Embassy called upon the Sudanese government to allow humanitarian agencies access to the sites in Central Darfur where newly displaced people have taken refuge from the attacks in Jebel Marra.

A delegation from the US Embassy in Khartoum, led by chargé d’affaires ad interim Benjamin Moeling, visited North Darfur on Thursday. In discussing the humanitarian situation with United Nations representatives, the delegation was pleased to hear that the UN has access to the sites for displaced people in North Darfur. The majority of the more than 96,000 people displaced by the government's military offensive against the armed rebels in Jebel Marra have taken shelter there.

During the visit to El Fasher, the delegates noted that access to the thousands of newly displaced people in Central Darfur has been difficult and obstructed, and therefore called on the government to replicate its cooperation with humanitarian agencies in North Darfur by opening up Central Darfur as well.

According to the United Nations' humanitarian office (OCHA), by 28 February, more than 95,000 people from Jebel Marra are estimated to be displaced. They seek assistance in various locations in North, Central and South Darfur. 65,800 newly displaced have been registered by humanitarian actors in North Darfur. According to Radio Dabanga listeners, tens of thousands of people who have fled their villages remain trapped in Jebel Marra’s mountain top and caves.

The Sudanese government estimated the number of newly displaced in North and Central Darfur at about 73,000 people. The Foreign Affairs Ministry has claimed that the UN's displacement figures are inaccurate, and that it continues to deny aid organisations access to certain areas in order to ensure “the safety of the UN workers”.

OCHA reported in its latest weekly bulletin that the UN continues to advocate with the Sudanese humanitarian commission to include humanitarian partners in the verification of displaced people in Central Darfur, in Nierteti, Tur, Golo, Guldo, Bori, and Wadi Bori. Until now, four requests by UN and partners for inter-agency needs assessment missions were rejected by the authorities. One request is pending and one mission to a camp in Zalingei was approved.

Embassy, Governor meet

On Thursday, the US Embassy's delegation met with the Wali, local government and security authorities, the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid), UN humanitarian organisations, and Darfur business people in El Fasher. In Zamzam camp the delegates spoke with people from Jebel Marra.

A meeting with the chairman of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), El Tijani Sese, “was a useful opportunity to exchange ideas on security, facilitation of voluntary return of displaced people, and Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programs”, the press statement on Thursday read.

“In Darfur we heard a unanimous sentiment: everyone wants peace and stability, no one wants war,” chargé d’affaires a.i. Moeling said. “Victims of conflict do not want to be caught between opposition and government forces; business people do not want to have to confront bandits and hijackers on the road.”

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