France urges international help over Darfur

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- French Minister Michele Alliot-Marie has called for more international assistance for the displaced and refugees from Sudan's troubled western Darfur region.
Some one million people have been displaced and more are at risk from disease and starvation following fighting involving rebel groups and government-backed Janjaweed militias in a conflict that has reportedly killed more than 30,000.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said it had distributed 15,000 tons of food, but warned that tens of thousands of Sudanese in inaccessible places still urgently needed food.
The French Minister after touring camps for Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad Friday said the international community needed to do more to assist the displaced and refugees.
The US has announced 30 million dollars in emergency food aid for Darfur, where more than two million people are expected to need emergency food supplies by October.
The African Union (AU), which already has ceasefire monitors on ground plans to increase the number of its peacekeepers to Darfur to 2,000.
France has sent about 200 soldiers and started airlifting relief supplies to eastern Chad, where some 150,000 Sudanese refugees have crossed the border to escape the fighting in Darfur.
Aid workers said the rainy season had already set in rendering many roads impassable, meaning relief supplies would have to be transported by air.
After her visit, Alliot-Marie said refugees had food while sanitary conditions in the camps were not bad, but she insisted more should be done to provide shelter and hygiene.
The key problem appears to be the shortage of helicopters to move supplies.
She said Paris alone could not meet all the needs, and urged other European Union member nations to assist.
The UN Security Council last week passed a strong resolution warning the Khartoum government to reign in the Janjaweed within 30 days or face possible sanctions.
Consequently, Sudan and the UN have concluded a plan to tackle the Darfur crisis, through measures to improve security and disarm the pro-government militias, accused of killing thousands of non-Arab villagers.

07 august 2004 10:09:00




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