UNHCR fears for security in Darfur's Habila area after office raided
GENEVA, June 13 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency on Tuesday expressed concern about the security situation in the Habila area of Sudan's troubled Darfur region after unidentified gunmen in military uniform attacked a UNHCR field office and wounded a guard.
UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told a press briefing in Geneva that the unnamed guard was shot in the leg during Monday night's raid and had been discharged after receiving treatment at an NGO clinic in Habila.
"Details are still sketchy, but it seems that around 21:00 hours local time, four men forced their way into the compound, shot the guard, stole communications equipment, asked one of the staff for money, then left. Police were called in to provide protection for the compound. No other staff members were hurt in the incident," she said.
The spokeswoman noted that the area - located about 95km south of the West Darfur capital of El Geneina - had previously been calm. "We are concerned about the security situation in Habila," she said.
In mid-May, UNHCR started moving Chadian refugees, who had taken refuge in the area after fleeing military and bandit activity along the border between Chad and Sudan, to a new refugee camp 60 km away at Um Shalaya. Some 3,000 of the estimated 5,000 people at the Habila site have been moved.
The remaining refugees have preferred to remain in the area, staying with relatives or fellow tribe members. Over recent weeks, a further 50 refugees have arrived from the insecure border area in Chad and have told UNHCR they wish to be moved to the new camp, which has good drinking water and a health clinic. UNHCR, which has seven staff in Habila and some 75 in West Darfur, is making arrangements to move them to Um Shalaya.