UN calls for access to camp in Darfur

THE UN humanitarian chief demanded that Sudanese authorities allow aid agencies into a camp in Darfur and surrounding areas where more than 80,000 displaced people were unable to receive food and other relief supplies for nearly two weeks.

John Holmes said that following recent violence five international aid organisations and UN humanitarian agencies were prevented from entering Kalma Camp by local authorities in South Darfur despite assurances that such restrictions were not imposed.

"If access is not urgently restored, the situation risks deteriorating rapidly," he warned in a statement.

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Samuel Hendricks, spokesman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Darfur, said late last week that at least five people died and thousands fled the camp following demonstrations by opponents of peace talks between the government and some Darfur rebel groups.

The talks in Doha, Qatar are the first since comprehensive peace negotiations broke down in late 2007.

Thousands of internally displaced people remain unaccounted for, according to Mr Holmes.

"We need immediate access so we can respond to the needs and conditions of those remaining there. We also need to find out how many people have left, and where they have gone, in order to provide relief to them, too," he said.

Mr Holmes said he is "extremely concerned about the welfare" of the 82,000 people at Kalma who have not received food, medicine and fuel to power water pumps since 2 August.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said Kalma's main market resumed activity, but the humanitarian situation continues to worsen with water and medicine in short supply. Many residents have fled Kalma due to the recent violence, but the UN estimates that 50,000 refugees remain in the camp.