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Sudan Tribune

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Norwegian Refugee Council returns to Darfur

June 5, 2006 (NAIROBI) — The international humanitarian organisation Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) resumed its relief operations in the troubled western Sudanese region of Darfur over the weekend, following the lifting of a ban on its work.

The NRC was forced to suspend its work in the region after being evicted on 5 April. On Thursday, the relief agency finalised its negotiations with Sudanese authorities and regained access to the volatile region.

“Our staff has started to return to Darfur the end of last week and they restarted their operations over the weekend,” Astrid Sehl, NRC press adviser said by telephone from Norway. “All our staff has been waiting in Khartoum [Sudan’s capital] over the last 2 months.”

The ban has hindered the distribution of food to 50,000 people and disrupted coordination in the largest camp for internally displaced people in Darfur – Kalma, near the South Darfur capital of Nyala, which shelters approximately 100,000 people.

“The condition for IDPs [internally displaced persons] in Kalma camp has worsened during the forced suspension of our activities. The rates of murder, rape and random imprisonment have increased. The tense situation has led to a number of demonstrations and riots,” said Tomas Archer, the organisation’s secretary-general.

According to UN sources, two people at Kalma died on 29 May after being shot by unknown men in an incident that seemed to be related to cattle theft. In a separate incident, heavy shooting was reported inside the camp on 24 May.

The atmosphere in Kalma and other camps across Darfur has become more volatile and unpredictable since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) on 5 May between the Sudanese government and the main faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army. Many IDPs have staged demonstrations against the peace deal.

In a statement on 1 June, the chairman of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, deplored the distortions and misrepresentations of the agreement by those oppose who oppose it and urged all Darfurians, especially those in camps, to remain calm and maintain peace.

“This will facilitate the resumption of the delivery of humanitarian assistance as well as the activities of the AMIS [African Union Mission in Sudan] civilian police relating to protection services,” Konare said.

(IRIN)

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