ZAM ZAM, Apr 8 – First their homes were torched, and now the people themselves are burning, huddled under crude shelters to escape Sudan’s fierce desert sun after fleeing Darfur’s worst violence in a decade.
“We got here three weeks ago from north of Mellit town but until now we haven’t got any aid,” said Mohammedin Ishaq, 60, an elder among the more than 8,000 people the UN says have reached Zam Zam camp about 12 kilometres (seven miles) southwest of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.
Ishaq spoke after calming his angry cohorts. They initially ordered away an AFP reporter who, despite tight government restrictions on the movement of journalists in Darfur, reached their parched refuge to obtain a rare first-hand account of their condition.
“Our money is about to run out and we don’t know what to do,” Ishaq said, calling for food and other assistance. “We need shelter as soon as possible because it is very hot.”
Their home, Mellit, is about 75 kilometres north of Zam Zam, Darfur’s largest camp for many of the two million people who had already fled violence in the region’s 11-year conflict.
Other newly displaced said they arrived at Zam Zam from elsewhere in the state following the destruction of their homes by unidentified attackers.
An “alarming escalation of violence” in Darfur this year has led to the uprooting of more than 200,000 people, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who heads the African Union-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), told the UN Security Council last week.