ERC CALLS FOR IMPROVED HUMANITARIAN ACCESS IN DARFUR
In El-Fasher, state capital of North Darfur, the ERC met Governor Kibir and other government officials. Ms. Amos also met representatives of non-governmental organizations and the United Nations, as well as the Joint Special Representative of the African Union/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID), Mr. Ibrahim Gambari. Discussions centered on the deteriorating security situation, which is limiting the freedom of movement of humanitarian workers and the ability to offer assistance to people in need. The importance of finding durable solutions for displaced populations was also raised.
The ERC asked for a stronger commitment from state authorities in Darfur to facilitate the delivery of unhampered humanitarian assistance free from political and ethnic considerations. Of particular concern to Ms. Amos are the restrictions on access to areas of ongoing fighting in Eastern Jebel Marra.
The climate of insecurity in which aid organizations currently operate in Darfur is diminishing their overall response capacity, in particular in remote field locations. The ERC expressed serious concern over the rise in kidnappings. Thirty international staff have been kidnapped since March 2009; four are still in captivity.
"I welcome the Government's efforts to resolve kidnapping cases and call for perpetrators to be apprehended and brought to justice. Stopping impunity is the only way to address this worrying trend", Ms. Amos said.
Ms. Amos visited a primary health care center servicing internally displaced persons in Al Salaam camp, on the outskirts of El-Fasher, where she heard the accounts of women displaced for seven years. They expressed their longing for return to their villages of origin but also explained that they were not planning to do so anytime soon due to the fear of insecurity. Ms. Amos said that "all people have the right to return home or settle in an alternative location of their choosing, but the conditions need to be appropriate and their safety and security must be guaranteed."
In Nyala, the ERC discussed the issue of return of internally displaced people with representatives of the humanitarian community. "Ensuring that returns take place in an environment free from intimidation is the responsibility of the Government," Ms. Amos said. "Humanitarian workers are ready to assist where there is clear humanitarian need, and where the government is not able to provide the required support," she added. "When displaced people do not want to return to their area of origin, we need to assist their integration into existing communities and support the development of sustainable livelihoods."
On Monday, the ERC will visit a resettlement site and one of the largest displacement camps in Darfur. She will then travel to Khartoum for further discussions with senior Government officials, donors, non-governmental organizations and United Nations representatives.
For further information, please contact: OCHA-Sudan: Christophe Illemassene, +249912179076 OCHA-New York: Stephanie Bunker, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 347 244 2106, email@example.com OCHA-Geneva: Elisabeth Byrs, +41 22 917 2653, mobile +41 79 473 4570, firstname.lastname@example.org
OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.