Darfur aid workers shifted for safety

The United Nations and humanitarian NGOs have temporarily pulled 32 staff members out of a number of hotspots in Sudan's Darfur region as a safety measure, a UN spokeswoman said.

    The UN said the withdrawal was a routine, and temporary, step

    Radhia Ashuri, spokesperson for the UN's envoy in Sudan Jan Pronk, said on Wednesday: "As a safety measure, we pulled out staff from certain locations due to incidents involving attacks by militias on UN and NGO personnel.

    "This measure only affects 32 people. They have been brought to the capital of West Darfur, Al-Jeneina, as a temporary measure and will be going back to these same locations very soon," she said without elaborating on the incidents.

    "This is a routine measure," Ashuri added. "The UN has no plan whatsoever to pull out its staff, whether foreign or local from Darfur."

    No affiliations

    The UN spokesperson said she could not specify the affiliation of the groups but said the armed groups had issued death threats specifically targeting foreign aid workers.

    UN's Jan Egeland says 180,000
    people have died in 18 months

    "We have made it clear to the government of Sudan, which is ultimately responsible for security in the country, that it should contain these militias," Ashuri added.

    An estimated 9,000 aid workers operate in Darfur.

    The United Nations fed a record 1.6 million people in the region during the month of February, the World Food Programme said on Tuesday.

    But UN humanitarian affairs chief Jan Egeland said earlier this week that more than 180,000 people have died in Darfur over the past 18 months.



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