Humanitarian crisis in Darfur set to continue until 2006, warns Oxfam
The humanitarian crisis in Darfur is set to continue until late 2006, international aid agency Oxfam warned today. Oxfam is sending two planeloads of vital aid supplies to Darfur and two more to Chad this month, where hundreds of thousands of displaced people living in overcrowded camps are facing critical water shortages and increased threats of disease.
Two years of conflict in Darfur has caused tens of thousands of deaths due to violence, hunger and disease. The huge international humanitarian response has already saved many lives. But it falls far short of what is needed.
"Over two million people in Darfur are almost completely dependant on external assistance. Aid workers are doing all they can to help, but it simply isn't enough. Most of the displaced people still do not feel safe enough to return home. If they miss this year's planting season, the next harvest won't be until October 2006. An end to the fighting is urgently needed so people can begin to rebuild their lives," says Paul Smith-Lomas, Oxfam's Regional Director.
The first of four planes is due to leave Manston airport in Kent, UK on Monday evening, 2 May, and is headed for El Fasher in North Darfur. The plane is carrying 34 metric tons of water and sanitation equipment which will be used to provide clean drinking water to over 200,000 displaced people in North Darfur. In Kebkabiya - a once-small town whose population more than tripled with the arrival of 60,000 displaced people - water is in such short supply that women must wait in the sweltering heat for up to six hours to fill a bucket. In Dalih camp near Tawila, 10,000 people vie for water from just two working hand pumps.
A second planeload of equipment is destined for South Darfur, including
Kalma camp which swelled to over 150,000 people in recent months. Oxfam will work with local authorities to install water tanks and lay nearly 8 miles of pipe to deliver clean water to 25,000 people who are due to move out of overcrowded Kalma to a new camp at Al Salaam. In eastern Chad, water shortages are also worsening. The camp of Am Nabak (pop. 16,000) has to get water by truck from the village of Iriba, 40 km away. But water levels are decreasing in this arid, desert region, where temperatures can reach 50 degrees C. The minimum standard for an emergency response is 15 litres of water per person per day for drinking, cooking and washing. But in the last few months, stress on the well in Iriba has been so intense that it can only deliver 5 litres per person to Am Nabak each day - a third of what the population needs.
"This inhospitable desert has become home for 200,000 refugees from Darfur who lost everything. Their presence has modified a fragile balance with the environment, and now the local population is also affected. Oxfam is drilling a new well 20 kilometers away from Am Nabak. But we still a need to find a more sustainable solution," explains Cedric Fedida, an Oxfam aid worker in Chad.
For further information, contact:
Adrian McIntyre (UK) 44 1865 312 498 or 44 7963 514 543
Cedric Fedida (Chad) 235 380 700 or 88216 5010 1186