Fighting between Sudanese government forces and rebels in a mountainous area of Darfur may have forced 44,700 people to flee their homes over the past two weeks, the United Nations said.

Violence that began Jan. 15 in Jebel Marra, which straddles three states in the western Sudanese region, has forced an estimated 31,000 people to seek shelter in North Darfur and 13,700 in Central Darfur, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Thursday in an e-mailed bulletin.

The numbers are “reported but not verified” and will probably change as better data becomes available, the UN said. Sudanese army spokesman Ahmed Khalifa didn’t answer phone calls seeking comment on the fighting.

Insurgents in Darfur took up arms in 2003, accusing President Umar al-Bashir’s government of neglecting the region. The International Criminal Court has indicted al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in the area. The conflict has led to the deaths of as many as 300,000 people, mainly due to illness and starvation, with about 2.5 million people currently displaced, according to UN estimates.

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