SUDAN WATCH: U.N. WFP says 3.25m people in Darfur will now need food

Saturday, May 14, 2005

U.N. WFP says 3.25m people in Darfur will now need food

The UN World Food Program says there has been a spate of attacks this month which is making it difficult to get food to people who need it.

Willing drivers are also becoming extremely difficult to find.

November estimates predicted that 2.8 million people would need to be fed in Darfur this wet season, but it appears that up to 3.25 million people will now need food, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, WFP's Country Director in Sudan, said in a statement on Thursday.

UN World Food Program plane

Photo: With vast distances to cover, severe transport constraints and large quantities of both food and non-food items that need to be delivered, airlifts and airdrops are effective, if expensive, ways to move aid quickly to those in need. (Photo by Julie Stewart courtesy WFP) See ENS news report.

WFP truckdriver

Photo: At El Obeid, a WFP contract truck driver stands beside his load of donated food before heading for a delivery point in Darfur. (Photo by Julie Stewart courtesy WFP)
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Aid agency slams Darfur drivers' murders

Violence and lawlessness in Darfur is threatening to disrupt aid deliveries and deprive people of food, the U.N. World Food Programme said yesterday.

The warning came after two of its drivers were shot and killed and the drivers' assistant on one of the trucks was shot and wounded on Sunday.

The two drivers were killed in separate incidents while transporting food aid between Ed-Daen and Nyala in south Darfur before transportation is made difficult by rains.

They are believed to have been killed by "bandits".

WFP convoy of 21 trucks

Photo: WFP convoy of 21 trucks. WFP 6x6 all-terrain trucks stuck along the road from El Obeid in central Sudan to El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, last August 2004. (WFP)

"WFP strongly condemns these attacks and extends its condolences to the families of the victims. Such attacks only make drivers extremely reluctant to transport food aid in Darfur and are making it very difficult to deliver enough food before the rains," said Ramiro Lopes da Silva, WFP's Country Director in Sudan.
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Killings put Darfur aid at risk

BBC news report says pro-government militias are still burning villages in Darfur.

Water distribution in refugee camps

Photo: These containers are lined up in preparation for a water distribution. Because water is scarce in many camps, trucks haul it from other regions. In some camps refugees rely on the same contaminated water sources used by the local population.

Aid workers fear that conflicts may erupt over water. (Photo courtesy of Howard G. Buffet for World Vision - link via Tim with thanks)
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Darfur refugees clash with Chad security forces, one killed

Refugees from Darfur clashed with Chad's security forces, killing one gendarme, a UN official said Thursday.

Aid workers pulled out of the Goz Amer refugee camp in eastern Chad because it became unsafe after the clashes Wednesday, said Ginette Le Breton of the U.N. refugee agency.

Two refugees, two aid workers and another gendarme were seriously injured in the clashes, she said.

The confrontation occurred a day after paramilitary gendarmes guarding the 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad tried to prevent refugees from selling plastic sheeting they were given by the U.N. refugee agency, she said.

The gendarmes on Tuesday arrested three refugees, prompting others to protest by burning down the community center in a nearby village, she said.

It was unclear why the gendarmes sought to prevent refugees from selling their plastic sheeting, Breton said.

"They sell the sheeting to get some extra money to buy a few things not provided by aid agencies," she said.

"We are talking with the leaders to see what we can do in order to calm down the situation, restart the work in the camp and resume the protection work for the refugees," Breton said.

At least 200,000 Sudanese live in awful conditions in eastern Chad after fleeing violent conflict in Darfur, the scene of one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

Chad soldiers

Photo: A soldier of the Chad National Army rests in a position in the wadi Tine, the empty bed of a seasonal river that marks the border between Tine Chad and Tine Sudan. (AFP Geneva May 12)
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World Vision Relief in Sudan and Chad

World Vision Relief in Sudan and Chad

Photo: Some 120,000 refugees call camps like this home. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees supports these camps and partners with organisations like World Vision and the WFP to provide food, water, and shelter. These organisations, along with many others, are now working to extend aid to more of the Sudanese refugees as the rainy season sets in. (World Vision - link via Tim)
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GOAL in Sudan

In Darfur the Janjaweed have implemented a reign of terror over the past two years, murdering, raping and looting with impunity. Over 400,000 people have already been killed and millions have lost their homes and livelihoods. Many more - in danger from malnutrition and disease - languish in makeshift camps scattered across the inhospitable terrain, waiting in vain for the international community to come to their rescue.

As the people of Darfur have had their homes and communities systematically destroyed, there has been no planting of crops and as a result of this, starvation and famine are imminent.

GOAL is currently implementing a life saving primary health care programme and food and non -food distribution programme in the Kutum and Jebel Mara districts of Darfur, including supplementary feeding programmes, a water and sanitation programme, well construction, the provision of shelter and the distribution of seeds. At this crucial time, the people of Darfur desperately need our support.

Source: GOAL May 12, 2005 via ReliefWeb.

Refugee women gather to collect food.

Photo: Refugee women gather to collect food. Over the next six months, World Vision will work with WFP to provide more than 3,000 tons of food to 26,000 refugees in Chad

On June 13, 2004 World Vision airlifted 49 tons of emergency relief supplies to Chad and delivered them to refugee camps. The airlift contained 5,000 plastic sheets, 8,000 water containers, 2,000 kitchen sets, and 300,000 water purification tablets. These supplies benefit up to 100,000 refugees. (World Vision - link via Tim)
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Medair responds to meningitis outbreak in West Darfur

Report by Ivor Morgan, Country Director of Medair, May 12, 2005:

The population of Abu Suruj, a once sleepy little village in a remote part of West Darfur, has swelled by nearly 50% to 5,000 people in recent months. People driven from their homes by the ongoing conflict have gathered in 'Kuma Camp' on the outskirts of the town.

Most of the displaced population live in temporary shelters made of straw -- inadequate to protect against either the harsh sun or the dust storms. The increased population means there is not enough drinking water to go around, and as a result many rely on dirty water collected from the wadi, a seasonal riverbed.

The Swiss-based humanitarian organisation Medair has been providing health-care for people in the area since 2001, and has been supporting the clinic in Abu Suruj since May 2004. In recent weeks, the clinic staff in Abu Suruj reported an alarming increase in cases of suspected meningitis and of 'acute jaundice syndrome', also known as hepatitis E. A Medair Outbreak Response Team was despatched to the area to investigate the situation.

Meningitis is a disease of the central nervous system, spread through droplet inhalation (for example, from coughing). Hepatitis E is an infection of the liver, spread through dirty drinking water. Both diseases are potentially fatal, particularly in the crowded, unsanitary living conditions in Abu Suruj. Fortunately, an effective vaccination against meningitis exists, and while hepatitis E cannot be treated, it can be prevented by using clean water and good hygiene practices.

Laboratory tests have recently confirmed 5 cases of meningitis in 1 week, exceeding the threshold for an outbreak, according to international guidelines. To limit the spread of this dangerous disease, Medair will be vaccinating 19,000 people during the coming week, within a 50 km radius of Abu Saruj.

"The next few days will be critical," said Sonja Nieuwenhuis, Medair's Senior Health Manager in West Darfur. "We have trained staff, and we will work closely together with the Ministry of Health, WHO and Unicef to vaccinate nearly 20,000 people. But we need to move fast, to stop this outbreak spreading further."

Medair's Emergency Water Team is seeking to improve hygiene and provide increased quantities of safe drinking water in Abu Suruj, by constructing an additional water storage system in the village. Medair will continue to train local hygiene promoters, who are essential in any outbreak response.

"We've kept water tanks, pipe and taps in store, for just such occasions as this," explains Wim Mauritz, Medair's Senior Water & Sanitation Manager. "We can set a system up in a couple of days, to provide water for 12,000 people."

Medair's response to this outbreak has been quick and comprehensive, and is expected to save many lives. Meningitis occurs in countries across the Sahelian belt of sub-Saharan Africa, most commonly between December and June. The last outbreak in Sudan, in 1999, reportedly killed over 2,000 people.

Medair is an international non-governmental organization (NGO), based in Switzerland. It has worked in Sudan since 1995, and is the longest-serving international NGO presently in West Darfur, having worked there since 2001. Medair's activities in Darfur are funded by a number of donors including the British and Swiss governments.

Elsewhere in Sudan, Medair works with war-displaced people in Khartoum; supports health-care rehabilitation in the Nuba Mountains; is preparing a post-conflict rehabilitation programme in Upper Nile; and provides emergency medical and water assistance in Southern Sudan.
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Refugees wait in line for food in Darfur, Sudan

Photo: Refugees wait in line for food in Darfur (AFP) May 12, 2005.
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Britain welcomes Canada aid to Darfur, pledges more support

London, May 13, 2005 (AFP): Britain praised Canada's pledge of aid to boost African peacekeeping efforts in Darfur, saying London was also ready to offer further assistance.

"We warmly welcome the Canadian announcement of extra support for the African Union (AU) in Darfur. The crisis still remains a top priority for the British government," said joint a statement from Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Development Secretary Hilary Benn.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said Thursday his country would give 136 million US dollars (107 million euros) over two years to Darfur, adding to 72 million US dollars Ottawa committed last month in support of a peace deal which ended the longer-lasting civil war in southern Sudan.

Canada also is to supply planes, helicopters and material for African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, as well as 100 of its own troops for both southern Sudan and Darfur.

Britain has given 14 million pounds (26 million dollars, 21 million euros) of assistance to the African Union mission observing a ceasefire between rebels and government-backed forces in the vast western region, and said it was preparing to give more this year.

Its total pledge for aid to Sudan and eastern Chad, which is dealing with the refugee exodus from neighboring Darfur, is 100 million pounds for 2005.

"The AU is preparing a list of further needs for the international community to support. We will respond positively to this," Straw and Benn said Friday.

As many as 300,000 may have died in the more than two years of violence in Darfur, which began when rebels rose up against the government in February 2003 and were put down with the help of pro-government militias.

More than two million people have been displaced, many into squalid and dangerous camps that are still targeted by the militias, known as Janjaweed.

Paul Martin and Tony Blair

Photo: Canadian Premier Minister Paul Martin (L) with his British counterpart Tony Blair in October 2004.
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Paul Martin and Senator Romeo Dallaire

Photo: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin (R) and Senator Romeo Dallaire comment on the situation in the war-torn Sudan, in Ottawa, May 12, 2005. (Reuters)

Canada dismisses Sudanese protest over Darfur aid

Heh. Read between the lines of this [edited] Reuters report, May 13, 2005:

Canada said on Friday it would go ahead with plans to send military advisors to Darfur despite Khartoum's insistence that it did not want the troops to enter the country.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said Canada would send up to 100 military experts to help a African Union force in the region.

This angered Sudan, which said it would reject the deployment of non-African troops in Darfur and complained it had not been properly consulted about the Canadian plan.

Martin spokeswoman Melanie Gruer said Canada needed the approval of the African Union for the troops' deployment rather than that of Sudan.

"There is no change to the plan. We will send what we said we were going to send," she said.

"We consulted Khartoum as a courtesy. It's up to the African Union to get Sudan's approval."
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True to form, Khartoum had a swift response. Here's an excerpt from a later Reuters report May 13, 2005:

Sudan rejects Canada's offer of military advisors

Sudan has rejected a Canadian plan to send military advisors to Darfur, saying Ottawa had not consulted Khartoum on its plan, the Sudanese embassy said on Friday.

In a press release dated Thursday, the Sudanese embassy complained that Khartoum had not been consulted in advance about the plan.

"(We) would like to affirm that the unwavering position of the Sudanese government ... is categorically rejecting (sic) any deployment of non-African military personnel in the Darfur region. Any logistical and financial support is most welcomed," said the release, which was sent to Reuters on Friday.

"It is to be as well stated that any future efforts or plans on Darfur should be worked out and finalized with the satisfaction and full approval of the Sudanese government."

No one from Martin's office or the Canadian foreign ministry was immediately available for comment.
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AU, UN delegations in Sudan discuss bilateral cooperation

Saturday May 14th, 2005.

AFRICAN UNION-AFRICAN MISSION IN SUDAN

Press Release Khartoum - May 13, 2005.
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Sudan: A Nation Divided

Excellent archive at BBC News In Depth Sudan provides a great resource and overview of the Sudan crisis to date.


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