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UNHCR Says Insecurity Slowing Efforts To Help Darfur's Displaced

The UN refugee agency now estimates there are one and a half million displaced people in Sudan’s Darfur region. But the UNHCR says due to insecurity, its teams are having a difficult time monitoring their movements, as well as assessing the condition of abandoned villages.

Ron Redmond is a spokesman for the UNHCR. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about conditions in Darfur. He says, “We are having some of our movements restricted because of continuing security incidents. UNHCR has a series of mobile, what we call, protection teams who are currently working in western Darfur near the Sudan-Chad border. They’re monitoring internal displacement, looking at the condition of abandoned and destroyed villages and trying to determine how many people are internally displaced in these areas. They have run into a series of security incidents over, say, the past ten days that have restricted their movements in that area as well as other areas further away from the border. So it’s a continuing problem caused not just by the janjaweed but also in some cases by rebels who are mounting attacks.”

Incidents include aid workers being stopped at roadblocks by armed “military people.” Also attacks on camps for displaced people have been reported. As a result, UN workers are advised to limit or curtail their efforts until the security situation improves.

As for conditions in the camps, Mr. Redmond says, “It varies from camp to camp. I mean we’re talking about an area the size of France. So this is a huge area and there are literally scores of these makeshift camps for internally displaced people that have been set up over several months. They’re scattered across the Darfur region.”