UN: Up to 73 000 civilians fleeing the fighting in Darfur, Sudan

Khartoum – Some 73,000 civilians fled Marra mountains in the heart of the Darfur region in Sudan since the army launched an offensive against the rebels on 15 January, the UN said Wednesday.
The world body said the move was the largest in the district in a decade and was a major thrust in the conflict that saw the rebel ethnic groups fighting government troops and allied militias since 2003.
“The number of civilians displaced by the recent conflict in the Jebel Marra region in Darfur grew from 38,000 to 73,000, according to the latest estimates,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.
The Marra mountains, which rise to over 3000 m and is one of the most fertile areas of Darfur controlled by the rebel faction of Abdel Wahid Nur of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA-AW).
Many of those fleeing – mostly women and children – took refuge in a base Sortoni run by peacekeepers of the Mission of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
“The recent increase is largely due to an influx of some 30,000 civilians in Sortoni” said OCHA.
The camp is now home to a total of 53,562 displaced civilians, the UN says.
Nearly 18,000 civilians have fled to another camp in Tawila.
“The UN and its partners have teams on the ground working to assess the needs of those who have recently arrived in Tawila and Sortoni” said the head of the UN mission Marta Ruedas.
The Sudanese government has not the UN or aid agencies access to certain areas around Jebel Marra to audit the exact number of people fleeing difficult.
The UN says some 300,000 people have been killed in the fighting in Darfur since 2003 and 2.5 million displaced.

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