28/10/2004

Darfur aid hampered by security and transport problems

Lack of security and restrictions on transport are hampering the delivery and distribution of humanitarian relief to the massive population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the strife-torn Darfur region, the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) has reported.

Refugees also say they are being harassed and intimidated by police or local authorities to return to their home villages or to explain their relationship with rebel groups in Darfur, the scene of a deadly conflict since early last year.

More than 1.45 million IDPs live in Darfur and another 200,000 people have fled to neighbouring Chad as refugees because of attacks by militias and fighting between two rebel groups and Sudanese government forces.

A UN recent survey found that 22% of children five and under in Darfur are malnourished and nearly half of all families do not have enough food to eat.

Meanwhile, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York that the operations of humanitarian agencies in North Darfur State have "become limited" because some roads remain closed to them. Other areas have become dangerous for transporting aid supplies.

Last Saturday, forces from the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) hijacked seven commercial trucks on a road about 120 kilometres east of the state capital El Fasher.

In West Darfur and South Darfur States, UNAMIS said IDPs have been harassed by police about their links to the SLA, one of the two rebel groups. Many IDPs are also pressured to return home, the UN said.

Elsewhere, the World Food Programme has reported that it had completed its polio vaccination scheme in West Darfur and reached more than 90% of the target population in North Darfur.

(gmcg/sp)

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