UN Mission in Sudan News Bulletin - 22 May 2007

News and Press Release
Originally published
Security and Humanitarian Developments in Darfur

Carjacking continue to be reported. The hijacking of two trucks of an INGO in Azerni (30 km West of El Geneina) on 21 May brings the total of humanitarian organizations' vehicles taken this year to about sixty (60).

On 21 May, an INGO center in Hamyidya IDP camp in Zalengei, West Darfur, was set on fire by unknown armed assailants. When residents rushed to save the center, they were fired upon by the perpetrators. No casualties were reported and the motive of the attack is unknown.

On 21 May, Nyala police arrested two INGO staff members while they were conducting a security training workshop in a hotel. The police stated as a reason for the arrest charges of "public disturbance" as the staff members were using toy guns in their training demonstration, creating panic at the hotel where the workshop was being held. The staff members were released on bail following the intervention of UN security and the Humanitarian Affairs Commission, until their case is submitted to the Public Attorney.

The efforts of the humanitarian community to increase its outreach to the conflict-affected populations in North Darfur have received a serious blow due to recent carjacking and other incidents. As a result of the the relocation of the staff of a INGOs from Khazan Tungur and the temporary closure by a INGO of its clinic in Tawilla, following a series of security incidents, around 83,000 IDPs and conflict-affected residents in Tawilla and Tawilla Rural have lost access to medical support. This in addition to the suspended food distributions on 12 May to 85,000 people in Dar Zaghawa, 85,000 people will not receive their food distribution in Dar Zaghawa as a result to threats, abduction and carjackings of UN and INGO staff.

In North Darfur, an interagency humanitarian assessment took place in Kutum Rural on 16 and 17 May, to identify measures to assist conflict-affected populations which are cut off from all types of assistance but food aid since October 2006. In many villages, large parts of the populations have been displaced to nearby wadis (valleys) or mountains due to a large-scale ground offensive in November-December 2006 and the GoS bombings between 19 April and 3 May. At the height of the dry season, restoring access to water is considered the first priority, followed by health services and a distribution of plastic sheeting, jerry cans and mosquito nets ahead of the rainy season. On 24 May, OCHA is planning a further assessment in this area with NGOs planning to restart their operations there, alongside a distribution of non-food items (NFIs) and medical supplies, and potentially, delivery of spare-parts to repair a number of hand pumps.

In South Darfur, large population displacements have been reported by various sources as a result of reported GoS and militia attacks, including alleged aerial bombardments against rebel forces in Buram locality this week. An inter-agency team is scheduled to visit Korshaman and Antikina villages on 21 and 22 May to verify HAC reports of large displacements and assess humanitarian needs.

New IDPs continue to arrive to the Zalingei camps, West Darfur. An NGO informed that during the past week, 40 new IDPs arrived in Taiba, 81 in Hassa Hissa and 97 in Hamadiya camp.

The May food distribution in Nertiti (Jebel Marra), West Darfur, was completed without incident.

An INGO reported on 20 May that it had completed a polio vaccination campaign in the Sarafaya area of North Darfur. Another INGO is distributing mosquito nets in the Wadaah area of North Darfur. Sudanese Red Crescent Society completed food distribution in Abu Shouk, North Darfur. The food distribution in As Salaam camp is expected to start soon.

Security and Humanitarian Developments in Southern Sudan and the Transitional Areas

In Thargeng (10 Km South East of Bemtiu) in Unity State, nine SPLA soldiers stopped on 19 May a commercial truck hired by IOM and UNHCR and asked for a lift. When their request was refused, the soldiers at gunpoint ordered the driver of the truck to give them a lift to their camp. On arrival, they assaulted and detained the team leader. The local police and SPLA authorities intervened and later released him. The incident is being investigated by the Local Police.

On 18 May, an anti tank mine was found along Wau Tonj road, 4.6 km from Jur River Bridge. The mine, which was discovered at 5.16 meters from the centre of the road, was successfully removed by UN deminers.

Organized return operations continue and with nearly 1,600 IDPs who returned home this week, the total number of returnees under the Joint Plan climbed to over 36,000 persons.

In Abyei, a joint technical team composed of UNMIS, two INGOs and the Abyei Health Committee Director has completed a technical assessment to improve the town drainage system. The decision has been made to repair three main existing drainage routes and then a network of smaller channels within the town. An UNMIS team of engineers has started work on 14 May, which is expected to continue for a few weeks.

Preparations have been finalized for the NFI distribution in the villages around Abyei. UNDP trucks are available for support and UNMIS will provide fuel. The UN Joint Logistics Center (UNJLC) is facilitating the transport of a number of common pipeline NFIs to a partner INGO, including blankets, plastic sheets, mats and jerry cans, as well as 250 contingency kits, to arrive in Abyei on 19 May.

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