SUDAN: Continuing violence in West Darfur claims NGO employee

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The killing of an employee of the NGO Action by Churches Together-Caritas (ACT-Caritas) in West Darfur has brought to five the number of people recently killed in Zalingei area, amid continuing violence that is hampering aid work across the western Sudanese region.

"This killing follows a spate of attacks in the camps around Zalingei," the charity said in a statement on 19 June. "Since the beginning of June, five camp residents have been shot and killed, huts have been set on fire, people have been beaten, and women assaulted almost daily. Hijackings of vehicles belonging to the UN and other international organisations also continue."

Adam Adam, a guard and pump operator at a water point in Khamsa Degaig camp for internally displaced persons in Zalingei, was shot on 17 June. He was one of the local leaders in the camp.

"The incident was witnessed by three women on their way to the water point," ACT-Caritas noted. "People in the camp tried to react, but the attackers fired shots into the crowd, dispersing them and allowing the gunmen to escape."

According to the NGO, security in and around Zalingei, where about 100,000 people are camped, has continued to deteriorate over the past year yet people keep arriving every day.

This latest incident comes just days after Sudanese authorities accepted the proposed deployment of a hybrid UN/African Union force to stabilise the strife-torn Darfur region.

However, Amnesty International, in a statement issued on 19 June, said much more needed to be done to ensure civilians are protected against human rights and humanitarian law violations committed by belligerents fighting in Darfur.

The incident also follows an announcement by Oxfam on 17 June that it would permanently close its humanitarian operation in Gereida, South Darfur, due to reluctance by authorities there to improve security and stop attacks on aid workers.

Oxfam had in December 2006 suspended its operations in Gereida - where 130,000 internally displaced people are sheltered in camps after fleeing from violence - after an attack by an armed group on the compounds of Oxfam and the charity Action Against Hunger.


Source: IRIN