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Darfur: UNHCR extremely concerned about further worsening of security situation

Briefing notes

Darfur: UNHCR extremely concerned about further worsening of security situation

21 July 2006 Also available in:

UNHCR is extremely concerned about the continuing deterioration of the security situation in Darfur. Yesterday, three Darfur water workers were beaten to death by a mob in a displaced persons camp in the Zalinge area in West Darfur. All activities by international organizations are now on hold in the IDP camps in the Zalinge area. We are still in the process of gathering more information on what exactly happened, but this tragic incident is just adding to an already long list of security incidents that have occurred over the past three weeks.

In the past two days, two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also been attacked by armed men in the Djebel Mara area, north of Zalinge. Staff members of one NGO were abducted by militia for several hours on Wednesday before finally being released later in the day. Last week, a driver working for an international NGO was killed in El Geneina by bandits. Ten days ago, an aid worker from a relief agency was shot dead in North Darfur. UN missions to the field in West Darfur are now being accompanied by African Union escort.

There are some 14,000 aid workers operating in Darfur. The conflict, which started in 2003, has displaced 1.8 million people in Darfur. There are also 210,000 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur region in 12 UNHCR-run camps in neighbouring Chad. UNHCR has more than 80 staff in Darfur, mainly in West Darfur. We have offices in El Geneina, Nyala, Mukjar, Habila, Zalinge. In addition to IDPs, there also an estimated 15,000 Chadian refugees who have crossed into Sudan in the past eight months.