Khartoum, 24 February 2016. I am deeply concerned about the plight of over 85,000 newly displaced civilians in North Darfur State, civilians who have fled their villages in recent days and weeks as a result of an escalation of conflict in the region’s Jebel Marra area.
On Monday I visited Tawilla, west of El Fasher on the fringes of the Jebel Marra, where over 22,000 people, mostly women and children, have gathered in recent weeks next to an existing camp for displaced people. Many arrived after an arduous and dangerous journey, carrying what they could of their belongings and food. Seeing hundreds of women and children in Tawilla and speaking to the local authorities there very much brings it home: that civilians continue to bear the brunt of conflict every day and their protection is our paramount concern.
The United Nations, international and national organizations, and the Sudanese Red Crescent Society are delivering assistance to those in need, and more is on the way, but the massive influx of new arrivals in recent days has put a strain on what was an already logistically complex operation. The Deputy Wali (Governor) of North Darfur State thanked the United Nations and our partners for the humanitarian assistance being provided.
There are also over 63,000 newly displaced in Sortony, taking refuge next to a United Nations peacekeeping site, where urgent assistance is being provided. It is at this particular site that the influx has been greatest, and initial reports indicate that civilians who had fled into Central Darfur State when hostilities broke out mid-January then travelled into North Darfur State to receive aid, as they were unable to access relief in Central Darfur. An 11-truck convoy left El Fasher yesterday for Sortony with more aid, including food.
To date, the United Nations and partners have not been granted access to key locations reportedly affected by civilian displacement in Central Darfur, despite reports of wide-scale movement of people and potential emergency need.
The United Nations calls for immediate, safe and unfettered access to all people in need, wherever they may be located, so that affected people can receive the humanitarian assistance they require. In particular, the United Nations urges all parties to the conflict to allow the United Nations and its partners to reach displaced people in Central Darfur.
As of 20 February, and according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there are 22,261 newly displaced in Tawilla, of whom 18,974 are verified, and 63,223 newly displaced in Sortony, of whom 41,530 have been registered. According to the Kebkabiya Smallholder Charitable Society (a non-profit organization) and Oxfam International, there are also 2,018 displaced people in Kebkabiya. This brings the total of displaced in North Darfur State as a result of the recent Jebel Marra hostilities to 87,502.