Oxfam withdraws from Darfur's largest camp
KHARTOUM, June 16 (Reuters) - British aid agency Oxfam said on Saturday it was withdrawing permanently from Gereida in Sudan's Darfur region, home to the largest population of Darfuris driven from their homes over four years of conflict.
In a coordinated attack on three aid agency bases in Gereida in December, an aid worker was raped, an Oxfam staff member badly beaten and others subjected to mock executions.
Since then most operations have remained suspended in the area controlled by the former rebel faction of Minni Arcua Minnawi, the only leader to sign a May 2006 peace deal with the Khartoum government.
"Despite our repeated requests, none of the perpetrators have been held to account, none of the assets stolen in the attack have been returned, and we have not received credible assurances that similar attacks would not take place if we did return," said Caroline Nursey, Oxfam's Sudan programme manager.
Oxfam provided water and sanitation, healthcare and livelihood education to 130,000 Darfuris encamped around Gereida town. The International Committee for the Red Cross will take over the provision of water.
"As usual in Darfur, the people who will suffer most are the civilians who have already been attacked, forced from their homes and had their lives thrown into turmoil. For the last six months they have not had the level of assistance that they need," said Nursey.
The conflict has driven some 2.5 million from their homes.
Sudan last week agreed to allow a joint U.N.-African Union force of at least 20,000 police and troops, mostly African, deploy to the region. But questions over who will command and control the mission remain.
Ambassadors of the Security Council will arrive in Khartoum on Sunday and meet President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
"The UN Security Council's urgent priority has to be to get all of the different armed groups to stop targeting civilians and aid workers and adhere to a ceasefire with immediate effect," Oxfam said in a separate statement on Saturday.
Diplomats say the ambassadors are likely to press Bashir to accept overall U.N. command and control of the force before they pass any resolution to fund the mission.
Security Council members have discussed the imposition of a no-fly zone and sanctions on Sudan.
Aid agencies have expressed concern that a no-fly zone could endanger their staff who fly around Darfur, the size of France, because many roads are too dangerous.
Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing central government of marginalising the remote west. Khartoum mobilised militias to quell the revolt. Those militias stand accused of a campaign of rape, killing and looting.
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