A decade after fighting began in the Darfur region of Sudan, the 3.4 million people there who still require humanitarian assistance are watching a tenuous security situation deteriorate further still, the international humanitarian and relief organization Oxfam said today.
Increasing conflict over the last months linked to disputes over land and mineral resources challenges the notion that Darfur is on a path to peace. In January, an estimated 100,000 people were displaced and 100 killed by intertribal fighting in Jebel Amr in North Darfur, and conflict in recent days killed an additional 50 people. According to the UN, the number of those displaced in the first two months of 2013 alone represents more than all of those displaced in 2012 combined.
With the bridge from conflict to peace still under construction, the international community must recommit to working towards peace in Sudan. Local peace efforts need to be encouraged and humanitarian aid must reach the millions of people who still need it.
“We have 1.4 million people still living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Darfur who cannot return home safely,” said El Fateh Osman, Country Director for Oxfam in Sudan. “With a renewed commitment to seek a just peace – including through better funding for and implementation of provisions outlined in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) – the country and the region can begin to emerge from this protracted crisis which has caused so much suffering and cost so many lives.”
The government – with the support of the hybrid United Nations/African Union Peacekeeping Mission UNAMID – must protect people from violence, and it must guarantee displaced people the right to return safely home if they choose. Those who do not wish to return even when there is peace must not be forced to do so. Ten years after the start of the conflict, Darfur has changed forever. More urbanized than before, the camps are home to large numbers of people who are not able to return to rural areas, and this reality must be reflected in donor and government policies. Humanitarian access must reach those in need throughout the country – including in areas affected by the separate but related conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States – and the government must accelerate efforts to provide services to all citizens.
“This anniversary should serve as a moment to awaken our consciousness and put an end to this conflict once and for all. The international community has spent 10 years trying to ease the impact of this crisis; now is the time to find lasting solutions and to help the people of Darfur to rebuild their lives and their communities” said Osman.