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Hundreds feared dead, tens of thousands flee fighting in Darfur

Just over one week since JEM rebels signed a ceasefire with the Sudanese government and President Bashir declared that the war in Darfur is over and released 57 JEM rebels from prison, there are reports of clashes between SLA rebels and the government in the mountainous Jabel Marra region of Darfur. Hundreds of civilians are feared dead and tens of thousands have fled as a result. Aid workers and UN agencies report that from 140 to as many as 400 have been killed, though without access to effected areas these numbers cannot be confirmed. An SLA commander reported that there has been government bombing over the past ten days resulting in as many as 170 civilian deaths in the town of Deribat, a rebel stronghold, alone. Attacks in Jabel Marra after the ceasefire were reported as early as last Wednesday. The Sudanese government denies that there has been fighting.

Aid workers are currently unable to gain access to the region due to fighting and threat of banditry, and the French humanitarian organization Médecins du Monde withdrew last Thursday.

JEM’s negotiator in Doha reported that he didn’t believe the parties would make the March 15 deadline for a final peace deal for Darfur.

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