WFP seeks help for 1.2 million people in Sudan's Darfur

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday launched international appeal for US$98 million to feed 1.
2 million victims of an armed conflict in Western Sudan.
"The need for emergency food aid in Darfur is acute," said James Morris, WFP's Executive Director, who has been asked by the UN Secretary General to lead a United Nations inter- agency mission to assess humanitarian needs in Darfur next week.
"The conflict has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their farms and homes and left them completely destitute.
Food assistance is crucial to saving lives," the UN food distribution agency said in a release received in Dakar Friday.
The attacks in Darfur began in February 2003, intensified during the planting and harvest seasons, and continue up to now.
Victims of the fighting are living in misery - under trees, or in overcrowded huts with virtually no health or sanitation facilities.
To escape the recurrent threat from marauders, many people are constantly on the move.
WFP has welcomed the 8 April humanitarian cease-fire for the region, and is making plans to improve its capacity on the ground to assist all those in need.
However, since January, WFP has only been able to feed half a million people due to lack of security.
"We hope to reach people who have been cut off for months," the release quoted Bradley Guerrant, WFP Deputy Country Director for Sudan, as saying.
"The timing of this cease-fire is particularly important as the approaching rainy season will reduce road access so we have to act quickly otherwise it will be too late to prevent hunger and disease.
" The appeal to feed 1.
2 million people will address the known emergency needs in Darfur until the end of December when crops planted in May should be harvested.
Among those to receive food assistance, there are 665,000 people displaced within Darfur, as well as 453,000 others affected by the conflict.
More than 100,000 people have fled to Chad where WFP is providing food to refugee camps.
"It is not too late to avert a catastrophe in Darfur, but only if those involved and the international community act without further delay," concluded Morris.

23 april 2004 20:42:00




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