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UNAMID chief calls for humanitarian access to recaptured Darfur towns

April 18, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The head of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on Thursday urged Sudanese authorities to ensure humanitarian access to civilians affected by the recent fighting in two towns of East Darfur.

The clashes between Sudanese army and rebels from Sudan Liberation Movement – Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) over the control of Labado and Muhajeriya forced thousands of civilians to flee their home as over 18,000 sought refugee around the UNAMID sites there.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who took up official duties as UNAMID chief and joint mediator on 1 April, met Wednesday in Khartoum with the Sudanese interior minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid where the two official discussed the situation in Darfur.

The Ghanaian diplomat underlined the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Labado and Muhajeria and urged the Government of Sudan to "ensure that UNAMID and United Nations’ humanitarian convoys are able access to (the two areas), in order to provide the humanitarian assistance to those in need".

Last Tuesday, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Sudan, Ali Al-Za’tari called to allow humanitarian access to the civilians in the two towns of east Darfur stressing that "an outbreak of diarrhoea among children requiring urgent and immediate assistance".

Also the official Humanitarian Aid Commission, estimated that 36,000 people have sought protection at UNAMID bases in Labado and Muhajeria.

UNAMID had already raised the issue in a meeting of a tripartite mechanism including the African Union Sudanese government and United Nations held earlier this week in Addis Ababa.

The Sudanese government pledged more cooperation with the joint mission arguing that the imposed restrictions were due to security concerns.

In a statement to the official SUNA after the meeting with the new UNAMID chief, interior minister said the security situation is calm in Darfur except some looting incidents carried out by rebel groups, accusing the latter of attacking commercial convoys.
However, UNAMID spokesperson said that during the meeting "Chambas also urged the Government to prevent civilian loss of life and property as it re-establishes its control over these areas".

After the control of the two areas by the Sudanese government forces, the rebel SLM-MM accused the militias of killing two people in Labado and called on the international community to investigate the "massacre" that the government militia committed there.