Air strikes and armed attacks in North Darfur displace civilians

21 December 2012, Sweetcrude/African Press Organization (APO), EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan — UNAMID received reports of displacement of civilians following alleged air strikes by Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and attacks by armed groups in Shangil Tobaya and Tawila areas, North Darfur. On 19 December, UNAMID deployed a patrol to Dalma and Dady villages to verify alleged SAF air strikes in this area. The patrol was denied access by SAF at Shanghil Tobaya.

On 17 December, UNAMID received reports of an increased number of displacement of civilians from Daly, Kotto, Msaleet, Nomaira, Dawa Sharafa, Dolma and Hemaida villages in the wider Shangil Tobaya area, who have fled to Nifasaha camp a result of a series of alleged attacks by armed groups and air strikes by SAF in the area on 12 December. According to the same sources, a clash between SAF and an unidentified armed group at Tibadiyat village, located 10 Kilometers south of Umderesay, approximately 20 Kilometers south-east of Shanghil Tobaya, had resulted in the death of one combatant and the wounding of two civilians. Allegations of rape and looting by the armed groups were also reported.

In a similar development, UNAMID received reports informing that civilians from Kunjura, Hashaba, Namira and Masal villages have fled to Argo IDP camp in Tawila area, on 18 December as a result of air strikes allegedly carried out by SAF and of an armed group’s raid on 18 December. UNAMID is arranging for further verification of these incidents.

While the scope of displacement is to be determined and allegations of air strikes are yet to be verified, the Mission is nevertheless concerned about the safety of civilians and the humanitarian situation in these IDP camps.

The Mission reiterates that air strikes and armed clashes invariably result in casualties and fatalities among combatants and in dire consequences for the civilian population, with loss of life, destruction of property, and massive displacement, compounding an already critical humanitarian situation.

UNAMID calls on all parties involved to keep civilians out of harm’s way and to grant the Mission unrestricted access and freedom of movement across Darfur. The Mission also warns that continued fighting could lead to a catastrophic humanitarian situation for the displaced civilians in North Darfur.

The arrival of newly displaced persons puts additional pressure on the resources and services available inside IDP camps, especially in light of limited access to water, health, medical and education facilities. It also leads to the deterioration of the overall humanitarian situation within the camps.

The Mission continues to offer its logistical and security support to humanitarian actors in Darfur to facilitate the response to the identified humanitarian needs on the ground.

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