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Save The Children UK To Leave Darfur, OXFAM Reacts

The British charity Save the Children says it will evacuate all staff from Sudan’s Darfur region. Two of the charity’s workers were killed by a land mine in October and two others were killed in a road ambush this month.

Save the Children, which had been serving some 250-thousand children in the area, said the risks to aid workers in Darfur had become unacceptable. Government-backed militias have been fighting a rebel insurgency in Darfur for nearly two years. The Sudanese government denies that it is backing the militias. About 1,000 African Union troops are monitoring a cease-fire, but violence continues.

“The security situation is deteriorating,” Adrian McIntyre, of another British charity working in the region, Oxfam, told Africa Division reporter Cindy Shiner. “There is increased banditry along many of the roads throughout Darfur, particularly in remote areas, and of course there’s ongoing fighting between government of Sudan forces and various rebel groups and organized militias who continue to target civilians on a daily basis.”

The United States says the violence in Darfur amounts to genocide. Nearly two million people have been displaced by the unrest and scores of villages have been burned to the ground.

Sudan’s government and rebels have suspended peace talks in Nigeria until next month. Mr. McIntyre said the role of the African Union in Darfur is vital in terms of monitoring the ceasefire and protecting civilians. “The simple fact of the matter though is there simply aren’t enough personnel or resources available and the international community needs to do more to provide assistance to support their work,” he said. Mr. McIntyre welcomed Sudan’s reaffirmed commitment to lift bureaucratic restrictions that have hampered the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Oxfam serves about 520,000 displaced people in Darfur, providing assistance with water, sanitation and public health in all three Darfur states. Oxfam serves another 110,000 refugees from Darfur in Chad.