Peacekeepers Say Sudan Denied Them Access to Darfur Conflict Zone

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Sudanese authorities have blocked international peacekeepers from an area of western Darfur, where at least 50,000 people have fled tribal fighting, the mission said on Sunday.

It is the latest of numerous access restrictions cited by the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

"The mission is not in a position to provide detailed information about the situation in the Umm Dukhun area as a UNAMID verification patrol, which attempted to gain access on 10 and 11 April, was not allowed to do so by the government of Sudan authorities," UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri said.

At least 18 people had been killed in fighting between the Misseriya and Salamat tribes in the area bordering Chad, a tribal leader told Agence France Presse last week.

On Saturday in New York the U.N.'s deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said "50,000 people in the last week alone" had fled over the border to Chad because of the inter-tribal conflict.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a January report that UNAMID "continued to call on government authorities to allow it unhindered freedom of movement throughout Darfur, in accordance with the status-of-forces agreement."

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