Red Cross provides aid for fresh Darfur fighting victims

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The international Red Cross said Tuesday that it had provided aid in recent days for nearly 7,800 people affected by recent fighting in Sudan's Darfur region.

"Most of these people fled their homes in search of security, taking with them only the most basic belongings," said Anne-Marie Altherr, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official in the region.

"They have been sleeping in the open, with no shelter or bedding, in temperatures as low as 10 degrees Celsius at night. Most are women and children, many are less than five years old," she added in a statement.

The ICRC said it was monitoring the situation in north Darfur following the deadly clashes between government forces and fighters from an alliance of Darfur rebel groups about ten days ago.

"Almost 7,800 people affected by recent fighting and tensions around Shangil Tobaya, in north Darfur, have received emergency assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross over the last three days," it added.

They were supplied with shelter equipment, blankets, clothes, cooking utensils and hygiene items.

Since the civil war broke out in Darfur in 2003, some 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million displaced, according to the UN. Sudan says 10,000 people have died in the conflict.

The government in Khartoum has been trying to secure a comprehensive peace agreement with all rebel groups in the western region for several months.

Meanwhile, Sudan faces a referendum on January 9 on independence for the south.

The referendum is a cornerstone of the 2005 north-south peace deal that ended a 22-year civil war in which some two million people were killed and another four million displaced.

© 2011 AFP

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