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Sudan: Mounting need for humanitarian aid in Southern Darfur

23-11-2005 News Release 05/67

Khartoum/Geneva (ICRC) – A series of violent clashes in recent weeks has caused some 15,000 people in Southern Darfur to flee their homes.

The fighting has directly affected more than 20 villages, leaving residents with little option but to seek the relative safety of Gereida. People journeyed towards the town from the west, some carrying the few items they could grab before the fighting erupted. Many arrived empty-handed. All were hungry, frightened and exhausted after their ordeal. Through its Gereida office, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has substantially reinforced its staff to deal with the crisis.

After being initially scattered in and around Gereida town the approximately fifteen thousand newly-displaced Darfurians were gathered together and organized into what will be the town's third camp for displaced people. The ICRC has registered all the new arrivals and immediately commenced distribution of essential items such as tarpaulin for erecting make-shift shelters, jerry cans for transporting water, clothes, soap and blankets. Food stocks are being supplemented from the ICRC warehouses in Nyala, South Darfur's state capital, and are about to be distributed to those in urgent need. Temporary solutions to address water requirements are being addressed until wells and water points can be extended or newly built. The capacity of the existing health care clinics in Gereida - supported by the British and the Australian Red Cross Societies will also be boosted to cater for an estimated 250 extra consultations a day. The internally displaced population seeking refuge in Gereida now numbers approximately sixty thousand people, three times that of the resident population.

The ICRC's mobile field surgical team in Darfur – comprising four specialists who give surgical care to war-wounded combatants and civil ians beyond the reach of hospitals – has also been mobilized and is currently in Gereida, where it is supporting the local health authorities and has already carried out some 60 operations for war wounds.

This latest round of violence reflects the intensification of conflict throughout Darfur since mid-September. The fighting in the Gereida area of Southern Darfur illustrates the complex nature of the Darfur conflict, involving as it does a volatile mix of tribal, militia, rebel and regular armed forces.

For the ICRC it is of urgent importance that all those involved in hostilities comply with the rules of international humanitarian law so as to spare the population additional suffering and fear. The ICRC calls on the parties to the conflict to exercise restraint and to refrain from indiscriminate attacks. It stresses that all feasible precautions must be taken to minimize both civilian casualties and damage to civilian property, and that everything possible must be done to ensure that the wounded have access to adequate medical services.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Paul Conneally, ICRC Khartoum, tel. +249 9 121 705 76 or +249 1 83 476464/ 65/ 66  

 Marco Jiménez, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17