Three million Darfur refugees 'need food aid to survive'
AS MANY as three million people in the Darfur region of Sudan might need food aid to survive next year because of the violence which has devastated the region.
Much of Darfur’s agricultural land is lying empty because farmers have been driven from their villages and prevented from returning to plant crops for next year.
The United Nations has called Darfur the world’s worst humanitarian disaster and the International Committee for the Red Cross yesterday said it expected that Sudan would be its largest operation next year.
Spokesman Jakob Kellenberger said that only 25 to 30 per cent of the available land had been planted, suggesting a serious shortfall in food supplies next year.
Aid agencies have already estimated that up to 300,000 people may have already died as a result of fighting, disease and malnutrition.
Mr Kellenberger said Sudanese government forces and allied militias had committed large-scale violations of international humanitarian law in Darfur.
He also said he had recommended there should be no impunity for these violations.
A US diplomat warned that people forced from their homes by violence in the Darfur region could remain in refugee camps for another year unless far more troops with a stronger mandate are sent in to boost security.
Tony Hall, US ambassador to the UN food agencies in Rome, said he believed that African Union troops in Darfur were too spread out and lacked a mandate to stop continuing violence.
He said that 23 per cent of children in the region were acutely malnourished.
Displaced people housed in camps are "living in fear," Mr Hall said, adding that women risked rape when they left the camps to get firewood.
Mr Hall said that aid agencies did not have security to operate in Darfur, and were unable to reach 500,000 to 600,000 people, noting that fighting between the government and rebels in North Darfur has caused aid groups to suspend operations there.
He called for the UN and individual governments to put more pressure on Sudan to honour pledges to give aid groups access to the area.
Meanwhile, Sudan yesterday appeared to have bowed to pressure to rescind the expulsion of the heads of two British aid agencies.
Khartoum announced that it had indefinitely postponed the expulsion of the local directors of Oxfam and Save the Children, who had been given 48 hours to leave Sudan.
The Sudanese government had accused them of sending "signals of support" to rebels in Darfur.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
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Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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Wind direction: North east