Security continues to worsen in Darfur despite a peace accord on May 5th. As a result, many people in need are not receiving humanitarian aid. One of the aid agencies working in Darfur is the Irish ngo, GOAL. Simon Roughneen is a program manager for the group in north Darfur state. From the town of Kutum, he spoke to VOA English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the lack of security there.
“Security has always been pretty precarious in our part of Darfur as it is for most of the region. But since the signing of the Darfur peace agreement conditions have actually worsened on the ground. As you know, the peace agreement was just signed by one rebel faction. There were two. There are now three.” Two factions have refused to sign.
Roughneen says, “What that has resulted in is increased tensions on the ground, particularly between the rival SLA factions over those who signed the peace deal and those who didn’t. And that means for us, for an aid agency such as GOAL, we cannot reach the people we work with in the more outlying, more remote areas in northern Darfur.”
Goal provides health, sanitation and nutrition services to more than 150,000 people in North Darfur camps for the displaced. “We still can access some of them. There are two large camps outside the town that we’re based in at the moment and we can get to those camps. However, they are within a 10-mile radius of the town. Anything any further out we haven’t been able to access for the last five weeks. There have been a number of robberies and carjackings in the area, which have made it unsafe to travel. And there are reports of ongoing fighting between rival rebel factions, which makes it difficult for us to get out and help the people,” he says.
African Union forces are only able to provide limited protection. Roughneen says, “We see the African Union on the ground here. You see them on patrol…people in the camps, on the ground, do not feel safe, anywhere secure based on the protection of the African Union because the African Union’s under funded and its mandate is not sufficiently strong enough to enable it to protect people, even in camps, from the likes of the janjaweed (pro government militias).
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