Four dead after UN-contracted helicopter crashes in Darfur

Four dead after UN-contracted helicopter crashes in Darfur

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29 September 2008 &#150 A helicopter contracted by the United Nations crashed in the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan, killing all four crew members, a spokesperson for the world body has confirmed.

“Preliminary reports indicate there are four crew members dead and that the aircraft had been completely destroyed,” Marie Okabe told reporters in New York. “There were no passengers on board.”

According to the UN-African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the helicopter crashed early this morning near the Kalma camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) after takeoff from Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.

“There’ll be further information following an investigation,” Ms. Okabe said.

Earlier this month a UN helicopter in Darfur was able to land safely after being shot at in the third incident of its kind in Darfur, where a conflict pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen has raged since 2003.

UNAMID was deployed at the start of this year to quell the violence, which has displaced more than 2.7 million people from their homes. The Kalma camp is host to some 80,000 IDPs and the site of clashes last month with Sudanese security forces that resulted in the death of dozens of residents.

An estimated 300,000 people have been killed, either through direct combat or as a result of disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy since the Darfur conflict began five years ago.

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