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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Sudan re-denies humanitarian access to Darfur camps amid international outcries

August 17, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan has reinstated a ban on humanitarian access to Kalma IDP camp in south Darfur, one day after allowing a small team of aid representatives to enter the camp and assess the situation there for the first time in two weeks since the camp steeped in violent clashes, UN officials say.

MSF doctor administrating medicine to refugees at Kalma camp
MSF doctor administrating medicine to refugees at Kalma camp
Kalma camp, one of the largest in region and home to 82.000 people affected by the seven-year conflict in Darfur, was two weeks ago the theatre of violent clashes between refugees opposed to Darfur peace talks and others who supported them.

The incidents resulted in five causalities and catapulted the relationship between the government and UNAMID to a tense point over the sheltering of six refugees wanted by the government at the mission’s headquarters.

Access to Kalma camp has been suspended since 2 August but the government on Monday, August 16, allowed a small team of aid workers to access the camp and assess humanitarian conditions. According to Samuel Hendricks, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan, the team visited different areas of the camp and found that IDPs vacated some parts because of violence. He pointed out that team also delivered fuel for water pumps and medicine to one clinic.

But Farhan Haq, UN’s deputy spokesman, told AP that representatives of UN agencies and humanitarian organizations yesterday tried “to return to Kalma Camp to further assess conditions and additional humanitarian needs but were denied access.”

UN’s secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, on Monday expressed concern over the situation in the restive region and urged the Sudanese government to ensure humanitarian access to IDP camps.

The Geneva-based organization, Human Rights and Advocacy Network for Democracy (HAND), has warned that the humanitarian situation in Darfur IDP camp is worsening and accused the government of preparing for an imminent military offensive against IDPs in Kalma camp.

In a statement seen by Sudan Tribune , HAND cited reports of “military buildups and mobilization of government security forces around Kalma camp in an indication of imminent military operations in the area.”

The organization also said that there were “reports that the government has distributed more than 1,500 AK47 rifles and Kalashnikov to members of the Dajo tribe through Omda Salah el Deen in Kalma camp.”

“Machine guns, including RPG rockets were also distributed to the nomad militias in Ishma area (25 km South-East of Nyala)” added HAND’s statement.

Sudan has been deliberately derailing the work of Western aid groups in Darfur and expelling their staff since March 2008 when the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for president Al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.