UN warns of humanitarian disaster in western Sudan
The United Nations warned Saturday that the crisis in Darfur, western Sudan, will worsen dramatically unless security there is immediately improved and humanitarian agencies have better access to those in need.
A UN mission which recently completed a three-day trip to the area called on the Sudanese Government to boost its attempts to provide security and protection for displaced people, and facilitate humanitarian access.
"Displaced families are living in difficult and unacceptable conditions and they continue to fear for their lives," said the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director, James Morris, who led the team.
He cited Mornei as one part of Darfur that has been “overwhelmed” by the presence of over 60,000 displaced people who are almost completely reliant on outside assistance. Health care is limited to a single, small and vastly over-stretched facility there, while living conditions are “abysmal,” he said. “Malnutrition rates among children are soaring and few if any are going to school.”
More than a million people have been forced from their homes by the armed conflict that started in February 2003. Many thousands have fled Sudan to neighbouring Chad.
Repeated attacks by armed groups including the burning of villages, widespread looting and the systematic destruction of livelihoods have left displaced people destitute. Basic social services such as health care and education have collapsed.
Most residents will miss this year's planting season, which is due to start in the coming days. Without an adequate harvest at the end of the year, dependence on food aid for displaced and resident populations will extend for at least 18 months, the UN estimates.
The start of the rainy season in June adds to the urgency of providing aid immediately. Heavy rains will make many roads almost impassable. The UN warned that some of the displaced people may become totally cut off at a time when the risk of disease also increases dramatically. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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