Darfur: UN helicopter draws fire

The United Nations-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) says unidentified assailants have fired on one of its helicopters near its headquarters in El Fasher, which late last month was the scene of several days of renewed clashes between government and rebel forces.
The Mi-8 helicopter, which was fired upon while on a food supply mission approximately 70 kilometres southwest of El Fasher, located in the northern part of the strife-torn region of Sudan, returned safely to base, according to UNAMID.
No casualties were reported, but a technical inspection conducted after landing showed that the aircraft wind screen was severely damaged and UNAMID is currently investigating the incident.
Meanwhile, the UN News Centre says UNAMID also reports the widespread displacement of civilians continues following recent fighting in Muhajeria, South Darfur, where fighting broke out on 15 January between Government forces and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
Figures have yet to be verified because of limited access, but significant numbers of people have arrived at villages and displaced persons camps in North and South Darfur.
General Martin Luther Agwai, the UNAMID Force Commander, has visited Muhajeria to assess the humanitarian situation there, following a visit by Rodolphe Adada, the Joint Special Representative for UNAMID.
“UNAMID is here to stay,” Adada told a gathering of elders, sheikhs and local administration representatives called Umdas, in the Muhajeria town centre. “We are very much concerned about your safety and UNAMID will continue its mandate to protect you and that is why we set up our house amongst you,” he added.
He told the gathering that UNAMID is working to establish an enabling environment so that aid workers can resume operations immediately to assist with the humanitarian needs of the population following the recent fighting.
Assessments by aid agencies have found people in urgent need of food, medicine, and water, with as many as 89,000 persons in the area who are dependent on food aid unable to get their rations.
Adada also met with an advance administration team dispatched by the Government of South Darfur to establish government services in the area, telling them that UNAMID will redeploy its police to Muhajeria in the next few days.