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October 28, 2008

Humanitarian Situation in Darfur

"The problems have only gotten worse", said a sheikh at a camp for displaced people in Tawila, near 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."

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 painted a bleak picture of 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 record 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".
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