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UN: Darfur security improving

2011-01-20 22:07

Khartoum - The United Nations said on Thursday the security situation in Darfur is improving and that Sudan's government is co-operating on the return and resettlement of people displaced by conflict.

"We are seeing a trend of an overall decrease in violent incidents in Darfur," Georg Charpentier, the head of the UN humanitarian mission in Sudan, told reporters in Khartoum.

"There are pockets of insecurity clearly... But there are large areas where there are security conditions that can promote a return" of internally displaced people (IDPs), he said.

Charpentier was speaking just days after the UN said at least 2 321 violent deaths were reported in the war-torn western region of Sudan in 2010.

Troubles flared again in West Darfur on Saturday, when gunmen killed two national security officials and a police officer in the town of Nertiti, according to the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur (Unamid).

'Misleading'

Charpentier said casualty figures for 2010 were misleading.

"A lot of those (killed) I believe... were more from inter-community clashes... than, let's say, the conflict that has been going on between the Sudanese army and rebel movements in Darfur," said the UN official.

At least 300 000 people have been killed in Darfur since the conflict erupted in 2003, when tribal fighters rose up against the Khartoum government, the UN says. Khartoum says 10 000 people have died in the conflict.

Charpentier said despite its budgetary constraints, the Sudanese government was assisting the UN drive, since the second half of last year, to return home or permanently resettle some of the estimated 1.8 million IDPs in Darfur.

"I can also attest to the fact the government has allocated concrete funding to support, internally, through the states, these durable solutions," he said.

"The minister of humanitarian affairs has had a very pro-active, constructive approach towards improving the living conditions in Darfur.

"The state authorities are willing to engage more in providing health and education. But their budgetary resources are notably limited," he added.

Charpentier said the number of people who have returned to their villages so far was "relatively small" in comparison to total IDPs, and that a major challenge was the "dependency" of those living in the refugee camps for up to seven years.