The United Nations today expressed grave concern over the impact of the ongoing hostilities in Darfur on thousands of civilians who have been forced to flee their homes amid the conflict that began two weeks ago. Initial reports indicate that about 19,000 civilians have fled into North Darfur state, and up to 15,000 into Central Darfur state, following fighting in the mountainous Jebel Marra region that straddles three Darfur states. Some humanitarian assistance, including nutritional supplements for children, medicine and purified water, has been provided to some of the newly displaced people — the vast majority of whom are women and children — in North Darfur, and the humanitarian community is working to provide emergency relief to those displaced in Central Darfur. The lack of access is preventing the immediate provision of aid.“The protection of civilians remains our paramount concern during conflict,” said the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ms. Marta Ruedas. “While it is encouraging that some humanitarian assistance is being provided, clearly much more is needed and we are working with our national and international partners on the ground to ascertain how the vulnerable can be helped during this time.