Dire conditions in Darfur town - UN

2014-07-10 18:27
A woman from Jebel Saiey in North Darfur, giving water to her child in her shelter at the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in El-Fasher. Albert Gonzalez, AFP/Unamid)

A woman from Jebel Saiey in North Darfur, giving water to her child in her shelter at the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in El-Fasher. Albert Gonzalez, AFP/Unamid)

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Khartoum - Aid workers in Sudan have found dire conditions after entering a town in war-torn Darfur that had been off-limits to most of them for three years, the United Nations said on Thursday.

It said government restrictions had prevented humanitarian workers from accessing the mountainous Jebel Marra region in central Darfur where a rebellion began 11 years ago.

The only exception was the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which was providing services in Jebel Marra's Guldo town and some of the surrounding area until Khartoum suspended its Sudan operations on 1 February.

For the first time since August 2011, authorities allowed non-ICRC aid workers into Guldo where they found the "humanitarian situation dire," the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its weekly bulletin.

"According to the mission's preliminary findings, the town has had no functioning health services since ICRC activities were suspended," OCHA said.

"It was also found that over 50% of the population in Guldo had no access to sanitation facilities, and no garbage collection services are in place. Hygiene promotion activities also stopped with the suspension of ICRC operations," OCHA said.

An estimated 100 000 people in Jebel Marra have been severely affected or displaced by conflict, but aid workers have still not been able to access other parts of the district to confirm the situation.

In May, the ICRC said the suspension of its activities in Sudan was having a severe impact as conflict worsened.

Authorities accused the Geneva-based organisation of violating guidelines for working in Sudan.

The suspension was one of many restrictions placed on foreign aid workers in Sudan, where humanitarians are struggling to meet the needs of more than six million people in Darfur and elsewhere.

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