The international aid agency OXFAM is welcoming the visit of the UN secretary-general to Darfur. But agency is calling for quick international action to help stop the violence there.
Alun McDonald is a spokesperson for OXFAM. From Khartoum, he talked with VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about Ban Ki Moon’s visit.
“This is such an incredibly critical time for Darfur at the moment. So it’s very, very welcome to see the secretary-general visit and show just how important the crisis is. The UN resolution that was passed recently has been seen as a sort of turning point by some people, but in fact, the situation on the ground hasn’t changed at all since then. In fact if anything, the fighting has actually increased again in the last month. What we really need from the secretary-general is that [he] and other world leaders really up the pressure and say enough is enough. And step up the pressure on those who are responsible for this increase in violence,” he says.
McDonald says an immediate ceasefire is needed. “Exactly…at the moment attacks on civilians are still going on, we’ve seen an increase in clashes between military groups. There are so many different factions in Darfur at the moment fighting each other. We’re also seeing daily violent attacks on humanitarians. For example, just two days ago, an OXFAM vehicle was hijacked while working inside one of the camps in Darfur. So what we really need is a ceasefire.”
The hijacking of the OXFAM vehicle occurred at the Kalma camp in South Darfur, home to about 100,000 refugees. Two men took the vehicle at gunpoint. The two aid workers involved were not hurt. McDonald says “In previous incidents our staff has been beaten, shot at, robbed. All forms of violence you can imagine really.”
McDonald says AU troops in Darfur are not able to offer much protection for civilians, adding they are undermanned and under funded.