UN Mission in Sudan News Bulletin - 31 Jan 2007
In a press conference held yesterday in Addis Ababa, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he had "useful and constructive" talks with President Omar al-Bashir and Chairperson of the African Union Alpha Oumar Konare on Darfur. During these talks, the Secretary-General stressed the centrality of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) nd the importance of its timely and effective implementation.
On Darfur, the Secretary-General said that President Bashir "welcomed a joint AU-UN mission to Khartoum and Darfur in early February". [The mission is a technical assessment mission to finalize details of an AU-UN hybrid operation in Darfur, including the force size].
The Secretary-General said that he was looking forward to a prompt and positive response from the Government of Sudan to his letter dated 24 January forwarding the UN Heavy Support Package to AMIS, which was jointly finalized by the UN and the AU. He indicated that he urged President Bashir and urges all parties to cease hostilities in order to provide a sound foundation for a successful peace process, and humanitarian access. "No more time can be lost. The people of Darfur have waited much too long. This is just unacceptable. I made this point very clearly to President Bashir and I raised these concerns with several other African leaders", the Secretary-General said. (The full transcript of the press conference and other press encounters of the Secretary-General, are available at the following address: www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp
UNHCR announces launch of US$19.7 million for Darfur operations
UNHCR announced yesterday the launching of a $US19.7 million appeal to fund our protection and assistance activities in 2007 for tens of thousands of internally displaced Sudanese as well as Chadian refugees in West Darfur. The appeal (available at the UNHCR website at www.unhcr.org) indicates that the ongoing conflict and prevailing insecurity in Darfur are the main challenges for internally displaced persons and refugees as well as for all humanitarian actors. As a result, attacks or fear of attacks seriously reduces access for aid workers to the people the most in need. The appeal also notes that given the extremely volatile security situation, there is no prospect of return for internally displaced people in Darfur, nor for the more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees hosted in eastern Chad.
According to UNHCR, there are presently an estimated 2 million displaced persons in north, south and west Darfur, including 250,000 who have fled fighting in the past six months. In West Darfur alone, where UNHCR's teams are mainly based, there are an estimated 700,000 displaced. There are also 20,000 Chadian refugees who have fled to Darfur following insecurity in border areas of their homeland over the past year. Eastern Chad hosts 230,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur in 12 UNHCR camps. They fled Arab militia raids as well as fighting between governmental forces and rebel forces in 2003 and 2004.
UNHCR is present in five locations in West Darfur (El Geneina, Zalingei, Mukjar, Habilla and Mornei) as well as an office in Nyala, in south Darfur. In total, UNHCR has more than 100 staff working in Darfur. Despite precarious security conditions in Darfur, UNHCR has managed to deliver a wide range of services to the IDP and Refugee communities. These include the establishment of 34 centers for women in IDP camps to assist in preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence. The centers have also helped 80,000 women to improve their living conditions through vocational training, income-generation projects and health education. UNHCR has also rehabilitated or built schools, sanitation facilities, water systems and shelter. In 2007, UNHCR plans to continue all of these and other crucial activities for internally displaced people. In 2006, UNHCR established two refugee camps in West Darfur to assist some of the 20,000 Chadian refugees who fled insecurity in their country. Um Shalaya camp, near Mornei, hosts 3,800 Chadian refugees who were transferred from the border, while the camp in Mukjar accommodates 200 refugees. UNHCR will also be assisting some 15,000 Sudanese refugees who fled back to Darfur from Chard due to insecurity
UNHCR says over 100,000 Sudanese Refugees returned home; the same number or returnees is expected in 2007
UNHCR announced yesterday that the number of Sudanese refugees who have returned home since the launch of voluntary repatriation to South Sudan in 2005 has now reached 100,574. This also brings the total number of Sudanese refugees assisted to return home by UNHCR to more than 30,000. Repatriation from the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, are conducted under tripartite agreements and take place by air and by road through various border crossing points.
The returnees are given an aid package of basic household supplies, including blankets, mosquito nets, soap, plastic mats, kitchen sets, jerry cans and sanitary items to help them restart their lives in Sudan. Upon return, they also receive a three- month food ration from WFP and seeds and tools from FAO. All returnees, as well as internally displaced persons and receiving communities, equally benefit from UNHCR community-based reintegration projects focusing on water, health and education in areas of return.
More than 100,000 Sudanese refugees are expected to return home from neighbouring countries in 2007. UNHCR indicated however that this will depend on an improved security situation, progress in peace talks between the Lord's Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda, which hosts the largest Sudanese refugee population (156,000), and unforeseen events that can affect returns such as a recent meningitis outbreak in northern Uganda. Movements from northern Uganda have been suspended for several weeks pending the vaccination of potential returnees. More information is available at www.unhcr.org/briefing-notes
In its 2007 Humanitarian Appeal, UNICEF requests $121 million for Sudan
UNICEF launched on 29 January its Humanitarian Action Report 2007, calling on donors to provide $635 million to aid children and women in 33 emergencies, ranging from Darfur in Sudan, which accounts for nearly a fifth of the appeal, to Haiti, Eritrea and the Central African Republic (CAR).
Of the requested amount $121 million is for Sudan, including programmes in the war-torn Darfur region, where continued conflict between Sudanese Government forces, allied militias and rebel groups has disrupted the lives of some 4 million people, including 1.8 million children. Children account for half of the more than 2.5 million people forced from their homes.
Darfur: Security and Humanitarian developments
Violence continues to be reported
On the 29 January, a former police officer was reportedly killed in a fighting with three unknown person armed with AK 47 at Maiwaseeh market in El Fasher. In South Darfur, on 28 January, fighting reportedly occurred between Maalya Militia and SLA/MM at Kalajo, 12 km SE of Muhajeria, and Khujaab. Seven were killed and others were wounded.
In West Darfur, on 30 January, shooting incident reportedly occurred between two armed men, suspected to be policemen from the Central Reserves Police and attempted to enter a house in El Geneina with a motive of robbing and the occupants, who were also believed to be armed. One policeman was shot dead and another one was seriously injured.
Large number of new displacements reported
A large number of new displacements are being registered, including 2,160 new IDPs verified in KASS town (South Darfur) where 2,000 displaced are still in the process of verification. The number of displaced in East Jabal Marra following GoS and militia attacks in December is estimated at around 30,000 to 35,000. In Gabral Ghanam (North Darfur), an inter-agency assessment mission verified about 5,000 villagers who had dispersed into surroundings hills following the attack on their village by SLA/MM faction on 6 and 8 January.
In South Darfur, a substantial number of new IDPs have reportedly arrived in Kalma camp in the past month from Muhajeriya via Seleah and the Bulbul area, including the most recent ones from from Amakassara. In addition, the Dinka IDPs in Bileil have been accessing services in Kalma until the opening of an INGO clinic in Bileil.
In West Darfur, the new IDPs from Ortega with Some 300 households agreed to move to a new area in Ardamata camp. Verification will have to take place before the IDPs are moved, and ration cards will only be exchanged once the move is completed.
Restriction of movement of UN personnel and harassment of humanitarian workers reported
On 29 January, three SOFA violations were reported. GoS officers at the check point south of El Fasher denied a UN agency convoy to proceed demanding a HAC permit. National Security forces at Zam Zam check point stopped another UN agency convoy for the same reason. Military Intelligence at El Fasher Airport refused UNMIS personnel to offload cargo from an aircraft from El Obeid, demanding copy of the manifest. The cargo was offloaded after two hours of negotiation. Another SOFA violation was reported on 30 January, as a UN team was denied passage at the GoS checkpoint along the Malit road on its way to Mellit (North Darfur).
On 29 January, three armed men, alleged to be SLA-MM, came to an INGO compound in As Salaam camp in North Darfur and threatened staff at gunpoint, demanding assistance to IDPs from Turra.
On 29 January, unknown gunmen stopped a pick up of an oil company and killed one and injured another at around15km south of Bentiu on the road to Leer.
On 29 January, unexploded ordinances had detonated as a result of firing caused by burning grass at the Kajo Keji airstrip. A demining NGO in collaboration with UNMAO conducted a clearance and demolition exercise. Aircraft's were advised not to land at the airstrip for the following 48 hours.
On 28 January, OCHA led an assessment mission in Taam payam in Mayom County, Unity State, in which 48 villages have reportedly been affected by floods resulting in the loss of houses. The affected population is currently displaced on the road sides. The mission identified the need to distribute NFIs to the affected population.
On 29 January, an inter-agency assessment mission led by OCHA visited Marial Bai and Nyamlel, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, to verify reports of meningitis cases in the area. The mission also noted a high number of malaria and chest infection cases.
* All UNMIS News Bulletins are available at www.unmis.org