Aid agencies warn of escalating violence in Darfur

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Aid agencies Monday warned the enormous humanitarian response in Sudan's restive Darfur region would soon be paralysed unless African and world leaders attending the African Union (AU) summit here take action to end rising violence against civilians and aid workers.
The agencies said African leaders and new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon would fail the people of Darfur if they did not take concrete steps to herald the start of a new chapter in the region and ensure an immediate ceasefire was both agreed and adhered to.
"Aid workers are facing violence on a scale not seen before in Darfur, leaving access to people in need at the conflict's lowest point at a time when the humanitarian need is greater than ever," said the six aid agencies- Action Against Hunger, CARE International, Oxfam International, Norwegian Refugee Council, World Vision and Save the Children UK.
Attacks on civilians were again rising and forcing even more people to flee their homes, and a breakdown of the aid response would leave millions in even greater danger, the agencies said in a joint statement.
"The conflict has dragged on far too long and is now worse than it has ever been," said Irungu Houghton, pan-African policy advisor for Oxfam.
"To wait any longer puts hundreds of thousands of lives in danger and risks a total breakdown of the entire humanitarian response.
Today must be the time the AU, the UN and the international community say enough is enough," he added.
Fresh fighting in January 2007, according to the agencies, has left more than 350 people dead and forced tens of thousands more from their homes.
Splits in the rebel movements and a widespread lack of accountability have left Darfur increasingly lawless, leading to the direct targeting of aid workers.
More than a month since an attack on aid workers in Geneina, the most violent of the conflict so far, which saw staff raped, beaten and subjected to mock executions, "it is still far too dangerous to return to the camp, the world's largest for displaced people," the agencies added.

29 january 2007 16:09:00

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