From 7-9 February, 2016, a UNAMID delegation headed by the Deputy Joint Special Representative (DJSR) Ms. Bintou Keita, accompanied by the Mission’s Force Chief of Staff, Brig. General Karim Suharna and the Acting Chief of its Humanitarian Liaison Section, Zurab Alzarov, embarked on a needs assessment tour to the Mission’s Team Site in Sortoni, central Darfur. The area has witnessed an influx of newly displaced persons fleeing from the ongoing fighting in neighbouring Jebel Marra.
Some 24,000 persons have sought refuge in Sortoni following the fighting and have converged at a makeshift camp next to UNAMID Team Site. The Mission’s mandate requires its forces to protect the civilians caught up in violence or who are in imminent danger.
DJSR Keita and her delegation toured the makeshift camp and interacted with the IDPs who told her harrowing accounts of violence against the civilians, the destruction of their homes and properties as well as their escape to UNAMID’s Team Site. Many have lost everything they possess, including their loved ones.
“They came at sunset, started to beat people and set our houses on fire. I fled with my family. We hid nearby but we realized the militias will not leave soon. So we started to walk to the UNAMID site. Our problems here are many. We urgently need water, improved security, food and shelter. But is much better to be alive and have problems than dead without problems” said Sheikh Ridhwan Muhajir, one of the displaced.
In anticipation of the arrival of the humanitarian actors on the ground, UNAMID currently provides 45,000 litters of water daily to the IDPs but this is insufficient in the face of thousands of the displaced already in the camp, and others who continue to arrive from remote villages.
During her meeting with the leaders of the IDPs, the DJSR assured them that UNAMID will discharge its responsibilities to protect them. She called on them to desist from carrying weapons, or allowing those who carry them into the camp. “UNAMID undertakes to protect you, your family and possessions while you are its guests, as long as you are unarmed civilian seeking protection”, said Bintou Keita.
While in Sortoni, the DJSR toured water boreholes and instructed the UNAMID Team Site there to redouble its efforts and increase the volume of water to the internally displaced people. DJSR Bintou Keita also travelled to Kabkabiya where she paid a courtesy call on the Commissioner of the locality. She discussed plans to protect and support the newly displaced persons in the area.
The DJSR also met with representatives of the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in Kabkabiya. During the meeting, they complained about increasing acts of violence against the displaced and asked UNAMID to do more to improve their security situation. Ms. Keita pledged to discuss the issue with government authorities who have the primary responsibility of providing protection to its citizens.