I. Affected Population – trends and analysis
1. The persistent high levels of insecurity over the past months have forced substantial numbers of innocent civilians to flee their villages and leave their cultivated farmlands, which are often deliberately destroyed. Thousands of newly displaced continue to stream into IDP camps or are dispersed in the bush. Gereida in South Darfur now has the largest IDP concentration in the region, with approximately 128,000 internally displaced. The number of displaced in IDP settlements, at nearly 2 million, has reached its highest level ever since the conflict started in 2003. Another two million Darfurians are considered to be directly affected by the ongoing crisis and are in need of humanitarian aid, again the highest number ever since the beginning of the current crisis.
2. The total number of IDPs increased by some 125,000 people with respect to the 1 July report, partly reflecting the 200,000 people displaced by intensified fighting and increased insecurity between July and September. Many people hide in the bush before attempting a return to their villages or moving on to IDP settlements, as evident in North Darfur where many civilians have been displaced for the first time, while many others are displaced for the second or third time, as around Gereida (South Darfur) and the Jebel Marra (West Darfur).
3. The deepening crisis in Darfur is also reflected by the constant rise in the affected residential populations. Their figures grew again by another 110,000, to reach just over 2 million people, as the protracted crisis continues to erode their traditional survival mechanisms. Although 80% of residents cultivated land, overall insecurity constrained access to markets and farmlands, and resulted in reduced areas of cultivated land, looting of livelihoods and increased problems to raise animals. The production in cereals is forecast to have a deficit of between 381,000 and 496,000 MT in 2007. Despite a slight improvement with respect to last year, only 42% of the affected residents are considered food secure and most of the populations will have to rely on external food aid.
Chart 1 shows the evolution of affected populations and the percentage of IDPs since April 2004.
CHART 1. Estimated Number of IDPs and the Total Affected Population (UN estimates since April 2004)
II. Humanitarian Access
4. Humanitarian access in Darfur is primarily determined by a combination of two factors:
- The degree of insecurity, which may require the United Nations and other humanitarian partners to suspend or limit operations in certain unsafe areas for a certain amount of time;
- The continued harassment of humanitarian organizations and workers, including increased bureaucratic obstacles, hijacking of cars and personnel, the use of military combat vehicles (cars and aircraft) similar in appearance to the ones for humanitarian purposes, denial of access contrary to the Darfur Moratorium and SOFA agreements, limitation of recruitment and intimidation of national staff, break-ins in humanitarian compounds, bullying and random denial of access to affected areas and IDP camps.
Chart 2 shows the trend of the affected population accessible according to UN security standards since April 2004. On 1 October 2006, UN accessibility in Darfur plummeted to 64%, the lowest access rate since April 2004, with all three states equally affected. It is important to note that NGOs and Red Cross/Crescent societies may assist people in UN no-go or limited access areas, but they become increasingly wary to access areas with a high risk of targeted road banditry.
CHART 2. Percent of Affected Population Accessible to UN Humanitarian Aid since April 2004
5. Access to the affected populations has been severely hampered by a number of factors. First is the continuing high level of insecurity, marked by confrontations between GoS (and its allies) and the newly founded NRF, clashes between signatories and non-signatories of the DPA, continued attacks on unarmed citizens and increased road banditry. The shifting of frontlines, the fragmentation of armed groups and their unclear chain of command further complicate safe humanitarian access to large parts of the 4 million affected populations.
6. Often the most important factor for decreased access is the intolerably high incidence of increasingly violent hijackings of humanitarian vehicles, with a debilitating effect on the organizations’ transport means. Between July and September, 21 humanitarian vehicles have been hijacked and 31 convoys ambushed and looted, during which six humanitarian workers and two AU Military Observers were killed. In addition, one humanitarian was killed in the crossfire during a GoS-NRF clash, and three WES (the GoS counterpart for UNICEF water and sanitation activities) personnel gruellingly killed by IDPs in Hassa Hissa camp, Zalingei.
7. Various factions of the rebel movements have often resorted to the hijacking of humanitarian vehicles, to be used in combat. In August, humanitarian organizations withdrew from Tawilla (North Darfur), after five vehicles had been hijacked at gunpoint in less than a month. As a result, over 107,000 affected residents have been left without humanitarian presence. Fighting between pro- and contra DPA SLA groups also seriously constrained humanitarian presence and access to the Muhajiriya area in South Darfur. The UN continuously assesses the local security situations, attempts to re-assess routes and negotiate safe passage for aid convoys while advocating for the respect of humanitarian principles, but in the current fluid context this is becoming increasingly challenging. Worryingly, the military buildup and strategic pre-positioning in many areas forebode further wide-spread insecurity. Experience of the past years has taught that attacks will increase significantly during the dry season (November-May).
8. In addition, Government authorities have further restricted free movement and activities of humanitarian organizations contrary to the Darfur Moratorium and SOFA regulations. UN missions have often been denied access to the affected populations by GoS authorities in airports and roadblocks demanding HAC travel permits not required for UN staff under the SOFA agreement. In addition, National Security suspended the activities of one NGO In Kass (South Darfur), while GoS authorities suspended another NGO’s activities in Kalma and other areas of South Darfur. Stricter control mechanisms on NGO activities, imports of humanitarian supplies and recruitment procedures have also been introduced.
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