A sharp escalation of intercommunal violence in Sudan's Darfur region has forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes in search of safety, including many into neighboring Chad, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported on Friday.
According to the agency, 250 people – including three humanitarian workers – also lost their lives in the clashes that started on 15 January in West Darfur province, and spread into South Darfur the next day.
About 3,500 new Sudanese refugees have arrived in eastern Chad, UNHCR spokesperson, Boris Cheshirkov told journalists at a regular press briefing in Geneva on Friday.
"These refugees – the majority of them women and children – have been hosted in four very remote locations that lack basic services or public infrastructure, where they have been sheltering under trees," he said.
"Due to the COVID-19 situation, Chadian local authorities are directing the new arrivals to a transit site, where they will undergo quarantine before being relocated to an existing refugee camp, away from the border," the UNHCR official added.
According to Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), an "imminent risk" of further violence remains, in an environment “where decades-old ethnic and tribal tensions that were further stoked by the previous regime continue to fester
Darfur, a vast region roughly the size of Spain and plagued by violence for years, was the site of a United Nations-African Union hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) that was deployed to protect civilians, facilitate aid delivery, and support efforts to address root causes of the conflict.
The mandate of UNAMID ended last year and it ceased operations on 31 December 2020, roughly two weeks before the latest round of violence.