KHARTOUM, Sudan, (AP) – Sudanese authorities have denied the U.N.’s humanitarian arm access to a Darfur refugee camp after an outbreak of violence, a U.N. spokesman said Friday.
Kalma camp is home to around 100,000 of the more than 2.5 million people displaced by fighting in the large region of western Sudan since 2003.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman Samuel Hendricks said at least five people have died and thousands have fled the camp since demonstrations protesting peace talks turned deadly a week ago.
He said 5,000 people from the camp gathered for protection at a nearby community policing station, and many hundreds remain displaced inside the facility.
Talks were under way to persuade authorities to allow the agencies to go in and distribute aid, he said.
“All we can do is keep talking to authorities,” Hendricks told the Associated Press.
He said that other humanitarian agencies have tried to get into the Kalma camp but failed.
A week ago, the Security Council received a briefing on clashes and rising tensions in South Darfur’s Kalma camp. According to the peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID, the violence stemmed from differences over peace talks in Doha, Qatar.
The talks in Doha are the first between Sudanese government officials and Darfur rebels in nearly two years, after comprehensive peace talks broke down in late 2007.
The council expressed concern at civilian casualties in Kalma “which have resulted from clashes within the camp between those who oppose the Doha peace talks and those who support them.” It condemned targeted killings and urged all parties to join the peace process, resolve differences through dialogue, and refrain from violence.
“It is a serious situation,” said Hendricks. “A major concerns is simply protection of those people and you’re talking about families living in already in very vulnerable circumstances and it’s in the middle of the rainy season.”
Fighting in Darfur that began with a 2003 rebellion by groups who accused the government of neglecting the vast desert region has left up to 300,000 people dead and forced 2.7 million to flee their homes, according to U.N. figures.