The international aid agency OXFAM says it welcomes the UN resolution mandating a hybrid peacekeeping force for Darfur. But it warns that aid workers and civilians remain at great risk in the region.
Jennifer Ross is OXFAM’s regional policy and advocacy coordinator. From Nairobi, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the resolution.
“While we’re pleased that negotiations on the hybrid have reached a conclusion, we’re still very concerned about the situation in Darfur now, immediately, because the force won’t be able to make a difference on the ground for many months. From our perspective, we would like to see an immediate and effective ceasefire and the strengthening of the current (African Union) troops that are on the ground now. Also we think there needs to be an end to attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers,” she says.
Describing insecurity in Darfur, Ross says, “The situation has deteriorated significantly since the signing of the Darfur peace agreement last year. I mean attacks are happening on a weekly basis, almost on a daily basis, with trucks and humanitarian workers being attacked. And this really affects our ability to reach people in need.”
OXFAM estimates it assists about 400,000 people in Darfur and another 100,000 Darfurians who fled across the border into Chad. “In some areas,” she says, “we’ve had to suspend our operations entirely and in other areas on a week to week, day by day basis we have to decide whether we can go into areas and give people life saving assistance."