A Sudanese aid worker was killed Friday in Sudan's volatile Darfur region, bringing the total number of aid workers killed in Darfur since May to 12. All of the reported deaths have been Sudanese national staff members.
A 37-year-old Sudanese nurse working with International Rescue Committee was killed during fighting in Habasha, northern Darfur, according to an IRC spokesperson. The organization's compound was looted, along with a health center and a pharmacy.
The International Rescue Committee in Khartoum said the circumstances surrounding the death were unclear, and it has been unable to confirm who is responsible. The organization received confirmation of the death Tuesday.
In recent days Darfuri rebels in the Habasha region have reported intense fighting as part of what observers call a ground offensive by the Sudanese government.
Aid work in Darfur has become increasingly dangerous since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement, which was accepted by only one faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army.
Twelve Sudanese aid workers have been killed since May, an unprecedented number even in embattled Darfur.
IRC advisor Rebecca Dale says humanitarian organizations have become increasingly concerned that Sudanese staff run a high risk by working in Darfur. "It is a very large source of concern, if we look at the way humanitarian workers who are Sudanese have been targeted over the last few months," she said. "Since May, 12 of them have been killed in Darfur. Especially because the people are working in their community providing vital services when we may not be able to access areas, and so they are particularly vulnerable."
Dale noted that no international aid workers have been killed in Darfur since 2004.
Sudanese aid workers often work with less security and for far less money than their international counterparts.
In mid-August the International Committee of the Red Cross reported that a 31-year-old Sudanese staff member had been abducted and killed in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur, during a food distribution.
Throughout the three-year history of the conflict, aid organizations have often had to pull out of certain regions in Darfur after a flare-up in violence.
The International Rescue Committee is currently the only aid organization working in Habasha, and has been unable to reach an estimated 85,000 people due to insecurity in the region.
The Darfur conflict began when rebels attacked government positions, complaining that the remote region remained undeveloped due to neglect by the government. Sudan is accused of arming militias to crush the rebellion, using a savage campaign of rape and murder - charges it denies.