August 16, 2004
What is the global figure for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Darfur? The figure stood at 1 million in late April 2004, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [Nairobi], April 21, 2004). That figure was raised by the UN to 1.2 million in late June, and on July 8, 2004 Tom Vraalsen, the U.N.’s special envoy for humanitarian affairs to Sudan, declared that “more than 1.2 million [are] internally displaced” in Darfur (Reuters, July 8, 2004). But on July 20, 2004 OCHA estimated that the population of Internally Displaced Persons in Darfur had increased by 100,000 “over the past month” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, July 20, 2004), suggesting (in concert with Vraalsen’s July 8, 2004 statement) that the total figure stood at approximately 1.3 million in the third week of July. There are also approximately 200,000 people who have fled to Chad as refugees.
In the four weeks since OCHA increased the total to 1.3 million IDPs, there have been numerous reports of violence and village destruction, and accompanying human displacement; large influxes of Internally Displaced Persons have been reported by camps that continue to swell dramatically. Given the rate of increase from the end of June to the end of July, it may be reasonably surmised that another 100,000 have been displaced, bringing the present figure to approximately 1.4 million, as well as the approximately 200,000 now in Chad (various humanitarian organizations report extremely large concentrations of people within 50 kilometers of the Chad border, evidently prepared to flee into the neighboring country to seek safety if Janjaweed assaults continue.
This figure of 1.4 million Internally Displaced Persons does not attempt to represent the number of displaced persons in areas controlled by the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement. In July 2004 the internal working number for this population at the UN’s World Food Program was 300,000. Many who have traveled recently to Darfur put the number far higher, with some estimates ranging up to 1 million. Thus the total displaced population in Darfur could be well over 2 million.
This is very approximately half the population of the African tribal groups of the region; it should be noted that many Arab tribal people have also suffered because of the fighting and have been displaced.
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