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Charity warns of Darfur catastrophe

11/9/2005 7:15pm

The security situation in Darfur is not improving, with thousands of people facing the daily threat of horrific violence, a British charity has said.

Oxfam warned the crisis would deepen if a peace agreement was not reached between the warring factions.

Malcolm Fleming, of Oxfam in Scotland, has travelled to Sudan to witness firsthand the scale of the problem.

He said: "It is still catastrophic, with nearly two million people stuck inside camps, and many of them are now going into their third year of displacement."

The conflict began in the impoverished region in 2003 after a rebel group started attacking government targets, claiming the region was being neglected by the capital, Khartoum. Rebels believe the government is oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs.

The Sudanese government and the pro-government Arab militias, or Janjaweed, are accused of war crimes against the region's black African population.

The Janjaweed has pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing throughout Darfur, burning down non-Arab villages and driving out their inhabitants.

As many as 180,000 are thought to have died in the conflict. The United Nations has described it as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

Mr Fleming said: "Humanitarian agencies are increasingly being targeted in violent banditry and looting incidents, and fresh clashes between government and rebel forces continue to destabilise large parts of Darfur.

"Because a large number of roads in Darfur are not safe to use, aid agencies are having trouble accessing camps and delivering supplies."

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2005, All Rights Reserved.

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