9 May 2006

Violence Mars Emergency Relief Coordinator's Visit to Darfur

NEW YORK, 8 May (OCHA) -- Violence has marred Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland's visit to Kalma camp in South Darfur.

Shortly after his arrival in Kalma camp, violence erupted, as residents of the camp attacked a national staff member of an international non-governmental organization, serving as translator for the Emergency Relief Coordinator.  The attack prompted Mr. Egeland and his party to depart Kalma camp immediately.

"It is totally unacceptable what happened," Mr. Egeland said, as his convoy left Kalma camp.  "The African Union are our friends, and we need them in this critical moment," he stressed, adding: "We need the population to support and not attack them."

The Emergency Relief Coordinator condemned the killing of the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) staff member during the riot around the AMIS compound in Kalma camp after his departure.  Mr. Egeland has expressed his sincere condolences to the AMIS sector commander and, through him, to the family of the victim.

Overall, conditions in Kalma camp have deteriorated since the Norwegian Refugee Council, the non-governmental organization responsible for camp management in Kalma, was forced to leave, following the Government of the Sudan's decision not to renew their contract.  Last month, the Norwegian Refugee Council was told to leave Darfur in its entirety.  Its departure has left many residents of the camp in a situation of insecurity.

After departing Kalma camp, Mr. Egeland returned to Nyala, where he met with the Wali of South Darfur.  He then proceeded to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, where he is expected to meet with the United Nations country team.

Mr. Egeland arrived in the Sudan on Saturday, 6 May.  Since his arrival, he has visited the capital of South Darfur, Nyala, as well as Gereida and Kalma camps, where some of those who have been displaced by the conflict in Darfur have sought shelter.  He is also scheduled to visit neighbouring Chad, where some 200,000 refugees from Darfur have sought shelter.

The conflict in Darfur has displaced more than 2 million people since 2003, the majority of which have sought shelter in camps within Darfur.  In 2004 and 2005, the humanitarian community made great strides in improving the provision of humanitarian assistance; however, the situation has deteriorated in recent months.  More than 200,000 people have been displaced in the last few months alone.

For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile +41 79 473 4570.

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