Tuesday, December 21, 2004

UK charity pulls out of Darfur - 360,000 needy beyond reach in north and south Darfur Sudan

UK-based charity Save the Children today announced that it is withdrawing all 350 of its staff from Darfur after attacks that have killed four of its employees. The charity said it was "devastated" it could no longer serve some 250,000 children in the area but the risks facing its workers were "unacceptable".

Mike Aaronson, the charity's director, described the withdrawal as "probably the worst decision I have ever had to take in my time at Save the Children". "We hope to one day resume operations in Darfur, with a view to helping people rebuild their lives and communities, once the security situation has stabilized," he added. Full story at the Guardian and BBC.

Note, the BBC report says Mr Aaronson told BBC News world leaders must effect a ceasefire deal before setting out to solve Darfur's political problems and warned that other charities could follow Save the Children's lead. He blamed ineffectual efforts from the international community to secure stability. "This is not just about one agency deciding to leave. There is a real threat to the whole humanitarian operation at the moment," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

UN World Food Programme last week announced that security issues have now put 360,000 formerly accessible and needy civilians in north and south Darfur beyond humanitarian reach.

Rafe Bullick (right) is among one of the four Save the Children UK employees killed recently

Meanwhile there is a water shortage obstacle for Darfur refugees in Chad and the Sudanese government is still negotiating with rebels from the south, to try and establish a final ceasefire agreement by the end of the year. The Sudanese parliament has voted to extend the country's five-year state of emergency by a further year.

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