Anti-measles campaign underway in Sudan's Darfur

  Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) -- UNICEF has launched an intensive campaign to immunise children against measles and polio in western Sudan's civil war-ravaged Darfur region where fighting has killed at least 10,000 persons and displaced more than one million others.
Darfur is in the grip of a major humanitarian crisis since fighting erupted between two rebel groups and Sudanese government forces and their Arab militia allies called "Janjaweed" in the remote area more than 15 months ago.
The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) resorted to arms in February 2003 reportedly to force authorities in Khartoum to invest more resources in their underdeveloped desert area.
Several international humanitarian organisations have accused government forces and their allies of committing widespread human rights violations against the black population in Darfur, a charge the government has categorically denied.
To prevent a major measles outbreak, UNICEF will provide Vitamin A supplements and vaccinate more than 2 million children across the region.
In a statement issued Friday, the UN children's educational agency announced plans to vaccinate at least 100,000 children living in areas near Sudan's border with Chad.
According to latest UN reports, more than 1 million people are estimated to have fled their homes to escape violence, while at least 150,000 have crossed for safety in Chad.
The Geneva-based UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Friday that hundreds of new refugees have been arriving in the Chadian border town of Adre since Tuesday after escaping fighting in three districts of Darfur.
UNHCR staff members have been trying to relocate as many refugees into the agency's camps far from the common border before the rainy season begins later this month.
More than 81,000 refugees have been moved to such camps so far.
The agency's spokesman Ron Redmond said additional manpower and trucks were being sent to Adre to handle the new influx of refugees.
Meanwhile, UNICEF is also attempting to improve the quality of nutrition, education and drinking water for children still living inside Darfur.
The UN agency has established about 25 feeding centres to provide food for malnourished children.
It is also supplying food to other areas across Darfur.
Over the next three months, UNICEF will also help to construct or renovate 158 temporary classrooms and provide teaching materials and school supplies to 34,000 pupils.
The US government helped to broker the April 8 renewable 45-day cease-fire accord between the belligerents in the remote Sudanese region.

05 june 2004 09:38:00




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