Tuesday, May 17, 2005

UNICEF estimates the number of people in Darfur camps will increase to more than 3,000,000 in coming month

Now that online shopping and donating to humanitarian causes is so easy, I have decided to only shop at charities for cards and gifts. One of my favourites for children is the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF.

A few weeks ago, I did most of my Christmas shopping at UNICEF's online shop. Loads of cards. Good quality wooden children's toys and other nice gifts. Plus I ordered 20 Make Poverty History white bangles to drop inside greetings cards and Christmas stockings for children.

Within a few days of placing the order online, a neatly packed box was delivered direct to my door with a note saying the bangles are out of stock but would follow by mail in a few weeks.

Please read this excerpt from a report on Darfur by UNICEF UK May 10, 2005:
Signs of drought are everywhere. Whole villages are being abandoned as residents seek stable and safe access to water. The situation is even worse for displaced people living in the camps. UNICEF estimates that in the upcoming months the population in the camps will swell by an additional half million, bringing the total number of displaced people in Darfur to above 3,000,000.

The scenes at wells are equally chaotic. In Musbat, thousands will wait in line before sunrise for access to the only hand-pump in the town. Children are often pushed aside while waiting to fetch water. "These kids are probably expending more than a third of their daily calorie intake on water collection," said Brendan Doyle, a water and sanitation consultant for UNICEF. "They're returning to their families carrying containers of water outweighing themselves."

Darfur waters

Photo: A UNICEF handpump has been positioned between the Al Riyad camp and El Geneina, enabling both communities to share access and interact. This also helps reduce potential friction between the two groups. (UNICEF UK/Kathryn Irwin)
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Darfur's children drop out of school in search of water

Bad news. Another emergency within an emergency. Darfur's children are dropping out of school to search for water.

See UNICEF's report on Darfur May 10, 2005. Excerpt:
Abdallah Hurry, a teacher at the Musbat elementary school in North Darfur, is losing students. Malnutrition and ongoing conflict have contributed immensely to the problem. These days, however, Abdallah is also losing students due to the lack of sufficient safe drinking water.

Extreme thirst is forcing students at Musbat and other schools in the area to spend their days trudging through the parched landscape. Besides dehydration, excursions into the surrounding landscape to find water expose children to other dangers, including sexual abuse from marauding rebel militias.

Across the North Darfur region, access to water is becoming scarce. Very little rainfall has caused scores of watering holes to dry up, while other wells have been poisoned by carcasses of dead animals. In addition, Government neglect of the water infrastructure has rendered half the area's pumps inoperable.

"What's happening here is an emergency within an emergency," warned Keith Mackenzie, UNICEF's Special Representative for the Darfur Crisis. "We've seen large scale displacement because of the conflict. Now it's happening because of the lack of food and water."

Chad class

Photo: A man teaches a large group of children at a UNICEF-assisted school in the Kounoungo camp for Sudanese refugees. (UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt)

IDP camp in Kass

Photo: Children, accompanied by their teachers, wave UNICEF-supplied notebooks at their temporary school in an IDP camp in the town of Kass. Some 30,000 IDPs have taken refuge in the town - doubling its population. (UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt)
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Martin Bell reports direct from Darfur

A report [not dated] at UNICEF's website says UNICEF UK Ambassador for Humanitarian Emergencies and former BBC Correspondent Martin Bell travelled to Darfur to document the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Martin sent a video report from a camp near the town of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur.

Click here for Martin's latest video report.

[Note, I am a Mac user without the right application to view the video.]

Darfur child

Photo: An emaciated 16-month-old boy, Wayel, who is suffering from severe malnutrition, drinks from a glass held by an adult, at the UNICEF supported El Fasher Teaching Hospital in North Darfur. (UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt)
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Support to humanitarian organisations on the ground is vital

UNICEF says lack of food and water may also cause health problems and malnutrition and is concerned for the 1.5 million children under the age of 18 currently being affected.

"Support to humanitarian organisations on the ground is vital to ensure that they have the resources to fulfil their mandate", said Keith McKenzie, UNICEF's Special Representative in Darfur.

With 160 staff on the ground, UNICEF is supporting the following:

Education is a key intervention that provides a protective environment for children. Currently there are 180,000 children in school of the 450,000 school aged children, this is the highest enrolment rate in 30 years. In addition UNICEF supports child friendly spaces and provides training for troops, humanitarian and government workers on the protection of children.

Nutrition: UNICEF is responsible for providing supplies as well as technical assistance to therapeutic feeding centres.

Health: Providing essential drugs and training to 170 health centres

Water: Providing clean water and sanitation facilities.

Touloum camp

Photo: Refugee children and women walk amidst their makeshift shelters in the Touloum camp, 80 kilometres from the Chad-Sudan border. The camp hosts an estimated 5,800 refugees from Darfur. (UNICEF/Hugues Laurenge)

Note UNICEF activities in Sudan and Chad.

Abu Shouk IDP camp

Photo: A woman, Kaltoom Haj Tahir, feeds one of her seven children in the Abu Shouk IDP camp near El Fasher. The Abu Shouk camp shelters more than 30,000 IDPs. UNICEF is supporting the provision of health services, safe water and plastic sheeting in the camp. (UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt)
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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow and son visit Sudan

Last November, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow and her son Seamus visited IDP camps in Darfur.

16-year-old Seamus is a UNICEF Youth Ambassador and is concerned about the effect of the conflict on boys and young men. He spoke with a number of teenagers and says they run the risk of joining armed groups.

"For the boys my age, the problem is they have nothing to do," he says. "They are really just stagnating in these communities. It's a big problem in that they are being recruited into local militias and resorting to banditry because they can't make their usual living, which is farming the land and pursuing business."

Mia Farrow and son Seamus in Darfur

Photo: Mia Farrow and son Seamus review drawings made by children in a 'Safe Play Centre' in the Kalma camp for displaced people, near the city of Nyala. UNICEF helped to build the centre. (UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani)
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Vaccination campaign against meningitis planned in West Darfur

An IRIN report today May 17 says a vaccination campaign against meningitis is to be carried out in the Abu Seroj IDP camp in West Darfur after the UN World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed an outbreak of the disease there, health officials said.

"We moved the vaccines from Khartoum to El Geneina [the capital of West Darfur] on Monday and expect to start the vaccinations in two to three days," Gouido Sabatinelli, WHO Representative in Sudan, told IRIN on Tuesday.

"The next few days will be critical," Sonja Nieuwenhuis, senior health manager in West Darfur for the Swiss-based humanitarian organisation Medair, said in a statement.
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UN food agency warns of looming aid shortage

The UN World Food Programme said today May 17 it would soon have to reduce rations to refugees in Africa unless donors came up quickly with the $315 milllion it needed.

It still needs to 'pre-position' food for 200,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad and 60,000 Eritreans in Sudan before the onset of the rainy season in July.

[Note, If 60,000 Eritreans need to be in camps in the Sudan, things must be pretty bad in Eritrea.]


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