Darfur conflict displaces 300,000 in five months - UN

Sudanese family in the Zam Zam camp for Internally Displaced Persons (22 May 2013) Valerie Amos said the refugees were forced to live in terrible conditions and faced chronic food shortages

Some 300,000 people have fled resurgent fighting in Sudan's Darfur region in the first five months of this year, the UN's top humanitarian official said.

This was more than the number of people displaced there over the last two years put together, Valerie Amos said.

"We cannot let Darfur slip off the radar of the international community," she warned, calling the situation "extremely worrying".

As many as 1.4 million remain homeless after the decade-long conflict.

Around 300,000 people are estimated to have died since 2003, according to the UN.

Though regional violence has come down from its peak, there has been a significant increase in fighting since January, with ongoing clashes between government forces, rebels and rival ethnic groups.

'Struggling to cope'

Ms Amos said the refugees were forced to live in terrible conditions and faced chronic food shortages.

Darfur: The story so far...

Children in Darfur refugee camp
  • February 2003: Rebels in western region of Darfur rise up against government, claiming the region is being neglected by Khartoum
  • April 2003: The Sudanese Liberation Army strikes Fasher airport
  • January 2004: Sudanese army moves to quell rebel uprising in Darfur's western region. Hundreds of thousands of refugees flee
  • March 2004: UN official says pro-government Arab Janjaweed militias are carrying out systematic killings of non-Arab villagers in Darfur
  • May 2006: One rebel faction signs a peace accord with the government but it does not hold
  • July 2007: UN Security Council approves a resolution authorising a 26,000-strong force for Darfur
  • March 2009: The ICC issues arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. A second warrant for genocide follows in July 2010
  • May 2011: Doha Document for Peace in Darfur signed in Qatar
  • September 2012: Clashes with rebels take place in Darfur and South Kordofan

She made the comments during a four-day trip to Darfur to assess the humanitarian situation and meet Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

"Here in the hot sun in summer, they've got almost nothing," said Ms Amos, while visiting a camp for displaced people outside the main regional city of El Fasher in north Darfur.

"They still have to walk for water."

Hundreds of thousands of children were being born inside these camps and had "never known life outside".

Ms Amos said relief agencies were "struggling to cope" to assist the 1.4 million people living in camps without adequate access to basic health-care, education and other services.

Efforts to deliver supplies were being hampered by a "serious funding crisis" and rebels obstructing the distribution of goods, she said.

In April, donor countries pledged $3.6bn (£2bn) for the reconstruction of Darfur, which fell short of the $7.2bn sought by aid organisations.

Darfur's conflict erupted in 2003 when rebels began attacking government targets, accusing the government in Khartoum of oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs.

The mainly Arab Janjaweed militia was accused of carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Darfur's black African population in response.

President al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and genocide in Darfur.

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