Unveiling its latest humanitarian profile for Darfur, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that the number of inhabitants affected by the region’s conflict surged during August to 1.8 million from 1.5 million.Most of that increase was caused by a jump in the number of IDPs, who have risen by some 220,000 to 1.45 million since the start of August. They live in dozens of often overcrowded or unhygienic camps across Darfur, a vast, impoverished region in western Sudan that has been beset by militia attacks against civilians since last year.OCHA officials say there are two reasons for the sharp rise: humanitarian workers have recently registered IDPs in areas that had been restricted or off-limits because of rebel or Government control, and there are constant fresh arrivals of IDPs fleeing their home villages.Even in the camps, many of the IDPs lack access to regular food, clean drinking water, sanitation and basic health care.OCHA expects the IDP numbers to go higher because aid workers are now gaining access to more territory controlled by two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).The Darfur conflict began last year when SLA and JEM took up arms against the Sudanese Government. Then armed militias allied to Khartoum began conducting attacks against civilians, murdering and raping villagers and destroying homes and cropland.Apart from the large population of IDPs, another 200,000 Sudanese have fled across the border and become refugees in neighbouring Chad.Meanwhile, Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, has spent the day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, holding talks with officials from the African Union (AU) about how the two organizations can work better together on Darfur.

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