Darfur fighting displaces 30 000

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iol pic afr darfur oct 19 REUTERS File photo - Boys from the Kassab camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) collect water in Kutum, North Darfur.

Khartoum - Two weeks of fighting in Sudan's Darfur has displaced 30 000 people who are in need for food and shelter, the United Nations said after some of the worst clashes in the western region for months.

Conflict has raged in Darfur, a vast arid region, since 2003 when mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms against the Arab government in Khartoum, accusing it of political and economic marginalisation.

Fighting and rebels divisions have scuppered years of international mediation and several rounds of peace talks. Violence has ebbed from the peaks of 2003-4 but has picked up in recent weeks, while banditry has also spread.

Around 30 000 people fled their homes in Golo and Guldo towns to escape two weeks of fighting that began on Dec. 24 in the Jebel Marra region, prized for its fertile land, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report.

Some 2 800 people fled to a camp in Nertiti in central Darfur, home to already 42 000 displaced people, its report said late on Thursday, citing figures from the government and a community leader.

Rebels from the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction, led by Abdel Wahed Mohamed al-Nur, have seized the towns of Golo and Rockero, the international peacekeeping force UNAMID said on Wednesday.

Fighting broke also out this week between two tribes in North Darfur over the use of a gold mine.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and other Sudanese officials for masterminding war crimes in Darfur. They deny the charges and refuse to recognise the court.

Human rights groups and the United Nations estimate that hundreds of thousands of people have died in Darfur's conflict, although the toll is disputed by the government, which says around 10,000 people were killed.

Around 1.4 million displaced people live in camps across Darfur, depending on aid rations, according to the United Nations. - Reuters)

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