Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aid groups again denied access to Darfur camp

UNITED NATIONS — Sudanese authorities on Tuesday again prevented aid workers from entering a camp for 80,000 displaced people in South Darfur, a day after allowing a small group in for the first time in two weeks to deliver medicine and fuel to operate water pumps.

United Nations deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said representatives of U.N. agencies and humanitarian organizations wanted to return to Kalma Camp to further assess conditions and additional humanitarian needs but were denied access.

Tensions have been high at Kalma since late July, when demonstrations by opponents of peace talks with the government turned violent, leaving at least five people dead. The camp has a strong base of supporters of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army, which is not taking part in talks in Doha, Qatar, aimed at ending the seven-year war in Darfur.

International aid workers travel to the camp every day, and when they arrived on Aug. 2 Sudanese authorities refused to let them enter and the ban was extended to local aid groups as well.

On Monday, several U.N. agencies and local aid groups working in Kalma were allowed in for the first time since then for a quick assessment.

The team visited different areas of the camp, finding parts empty after people fled following the recent tensions, said Samuel Hendricks, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan. They also delivered fuel for water pumps, which ran out of fuel last week, and medicine to one clinic.

Although aid workers have been barred from Kalma, the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force has stepped up patrols in the camp. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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