Sudan: The humanitarian situation in Darfur

"The problems have only gotten worse", said a sheikh at a camp for displaced people in Tawila, 50km west of El-Fasher, state capital of North Darfur. "At the beginning of the conflict, he told IRIN, attacks - if intense - were few and far between, but now, weekly, there is a problem here."

Police at Tawila camp deny any involvement and insist they are there for the protection of the displaced. The government blames the continuation of the conflict on rebels who refuse to negotiate.

While analysts describe the current conflict as "low-level", many displaced people say it is worse now than it has ever been.

Fighting between government and rebel troops in September saw attacks on villages reminiscent of the type of fighting that took place at the height of the conflict in 2003-4. In villages near Tabit town in North Darfur, burned houses, craters from bombs, and gun casings along the road are just some indications. Some 300,000 are estimated to have been newly displaced this year alone, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"The situation in Darfur is deteriorating," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told journalists at a press conference on 7 October.

"People who have been here a long time say this conflict is as bad now as it has ever been," one UN official added.

In his report on October 17, 2008 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave obscure picture over Darfur, where he said:

"Military operations and banditry have undermined the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Since January 2008, more than 230,000 civilians have been forced to flee violence, at a rate of nearly 1,000 per day. Many of them have fled to overcrowded camps near large towns or in some cases sought shelter in the desert until clashes subsided. As attacks on humanitarian agencies also continued to climb, incidents of violence against aid workers in the first eight months of 2008 have already surpassed the total records in 2007. So far this year, 208 humanitarian vehicles have been hijacked, 155 aid workers abducted (43 WFP-contracted drivers remain unaccounted for), and 123 premises broken into. Because of this targeted violence, two major non-governmental organizations assisting more than 500,000 civilians in Northern Darfur alone were forced to suspend their activities during the reporting period".

On October 17, 2008 the Sudan People's Initiative was opened by President Bashir in Khartoum. UN and AU and the Arab League along with a number of diplomatic missions participated. Meanwhile People's Congress Party led by Dr. Turabi and the Communist Party along with some 21 minor parties boycotted. After conclusion of the conference on the initiative the President called upon all who boycotted to say their word.

The Qatari initiative is still underway as it is welcomed by the Government of Sudan and supported by the UN and AU. On October 18, 2008 the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement Khalil Ibrahim has assured that the movement is ready to meet Qataris to discuss the Qatari initiative to resolve the Darfur conflict.

On October 22, 2008 the scene dramatically changed, when the news of correspondences between the UN and ICC prosecutor on Bashir's indictment for genocide in Darfur was published. This has been confirmed by the spokesperson of the United Nations that the organizations on peacekeeping missions are mandated to provide detailed and objective reports upon the request of the International Criminal Court. The new developments will probably worsen the humanitarian situation in Darfur.