18 January 2009 -- UNAMID statement on the situation in Muhajeria, South Darfur
El Fasher, 18 January, 2009 – The African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, UNAMID, has confirmed that the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has taken full control of Muhajeriya, South Darfur, from the Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minawi (SLA/M) after fierce fighting that has led to additional suffering to the civilian population in the area.
Recent reports indicate that the SLA/M is regrouping for a counterattack to regain control of Muhajeriya which was their strong-hold for a long time.
UNAMID peacekeepers are on the ground to protect members of the local population but the situation has reached a level where aid staff were evacuated from Muhajeriya, particularly after an aid agency office has been destroyed.
UNAMID also evacuated six critically injured persons to Nyala late yesterday, and it continues to provide some basic medical services within its compound.
UNAMID expresses grave concern for the lives and safety of the civilian population in Muhajeriya and warns that continued fighting between the two Darfurian movements could lead to a catastrophic humanitarian situation for the 30,000 residents and displaced civilians there.
UNAMID deplores this alarming military escalation that jeopardizes the prospects for successful peace negotiations.
Rodolphe Adada, the Joint Special Representative said “It is not uncommon for belligerent parties to try to maximize their leverage ahead of peace talks by creating a military fait accompli on the ground, however, military actions by either party have not resolved the Darfur conflict and will not do so in the future”. Therefore, he calls upon all parties to stop the fighting immediately and to resort to dialogue.