Khartoum - The UN on Sunday expressed deep concern over the
latest deadly tribal violence in Sudan's Darfur region, which has hampered
assistance for tens of thousands of people forced to flee earlier fighting.
Residents in the town of El Sireaf said an Arab militia
firing heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades burned houses and
killed more than 50 people on Saturday.
The North Darfur state governor, Osman Kbir, said 51 people
died and 62 were wounded, the official SUNA news agency reported.
"We are deeply concerned by the violence," Damian
Rance of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(Ocha) told AFP.
"It's affected our ability to run a humanitarian
At least 100 000 people had already been displaced or
severely affected by battles since early January between the Rezeigat tribe and
rival Arabs from the Beni Hussein group in the Jebel Amir gold mining area of
The violence caused the largest uprooting of Darfur's
population in years, aid workers said.
People were displaced across a wide area but most ended up
in El Sireaf town, where Saturday's fighting occurred.
Aid convoys are still moving in the surrounding area but
"we don't have access to El Sireaf town" because of the fighting,
He added that the violence had forced some people from the
town into the surrounding district while others had moved over the nearby
border to West Darfur state.
A local resident told AFP that displaced people who had
sought shelter on the outskirts of El Sireaf, where the heaviest fighting
occurred, had moved into the town centre.
Some were simply staying in the street or under trees, he
said, adding that people feared further attacks although on Sunday there were
no reports of fighting.
Residents said the attackers wore uniforms and belonged to a
militia of the Rezeigat tribe.
A Rezeigat source could not be reached on Sunday.
Governor Kbir confirmed that Rezeigat were responsible for
the latest attack but said they had come from West and Central Darfur states.
Speaking in El Sireaf, he said security forces will
"intervene strongly" to ensure peace between the two tribes.
"The situation will improve within two days. There is
communication between both sides," Kbir said.
"The government will review the humanitarian situation
so as to let the NGOs do their job of delivering aid to affected people."
On Thursday, Ocha reported that about 65 000 displaced had
been given soap, chlorine and other sanitation supplies.
"Water is trucked in daily, hand pumps have been
repaired, and submersible water pumps and bladders to increase access to safe
water have been installed," Ocha said in its weekly bulletin.
In late January Amnesty International said the fighting
began when a Rezeigat leader, who is an officer in Sudan's Border Guard force,
apparently laid claim to a gold-rich area in Beni Hussein territory.
The violence illustrates the changed nature of Darfur's
conflict, where 10 years ago on Tuesday rebels from black tribes began an
insurrection against the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime.
Darfur's top official, Eltigani Seisi, told AFP last week
"the major issue" now is not rebel attacks but "ethnic
violence" such as that in Jebel Amir.
He admitted that government-linked militia in North Darfur
have "committed atrocities against innocent civilians" but he said
the armed groups are to be disbanded.
The UN said 1.4 million people were already living in camps
for the displaced before the Jebel Amir violence.