Conflict in Sudan’s Darfur Forces 73,000 to Flee Homes in Month

Fighting between Sudanese government forces and rebels in a mountainous area of Darfur has forced 73,000 people to flee their homes during the past month, the United Nations said.

Violence that began mid-January in Jebel Marra, which straddles three states in the western Sudanese region, has spurred about 30,000 people to seek shelter in Sortony in North Darfur state, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement.

About 18,000 people are sheltering in Tawilla, also in the state, while thousands have also been reported in Central Darfur, according to the UN. Sudanese army spokesman Ahmed Khalifa didn’t answer phone calls seeking comment. Last week the military said it controlled most of Jebel Marra and urged civilians to return home.

Rebels 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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