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UN: New Darfur Fighting Displaces Thousands


The United Nations says recent fighting in the volatile Darfur region of western Sudan has displaced tens of thousands of civilians and has caused the evacuation of dozens of humanitarian staff.

The spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan, Dawn Blalock, tells VOA that in the South Darfur area of Sharia alone, some 10,000 people have fled the recent fighting.

She says in that area, militiamen on horseback are harassing hundreds of mostly women and children.

Aid agencies withdrew from Sharia as well as Golo and Daya in the Jabal Marra area of West Darfur, where tens of thousands of people are said to have escaped the warfare.

Blalock says there is almost no international presence now in Jabal Marra, which she explains is very worrying for the protection of civilians and the continuation of humanitarian programs.

Clashes between government troops and rebels of the Sudan Liberation Army intensified last week in Darfur.

But a new pattern has recently emerged in the conflict, says Blalock. She says government troops, somtimes abbreviated as GoS, are fighting with each other. Meanwhile, she adds, the rebels, or SLA, are also attacking one another.

"One of the things we saw in late December and early January is that we've even had GoS fighting GoS [and] SLAfighting SLA, and inter-tribal violence with Arab tribes in addition to the usual one party attacks the other and the other retaliates," she said. "That's what we're seeing right now. But overall, in Darfur, it's a prevailing environment of chaos."

The Darfur conflict broke out in 2003, when rebels rose up against what they said was political and economic marginalization of black Africans by the Arab-dominated northern government.