|A woman holds her malnourished child in the Karare camp in Nyala, capital of South Darfur.|
By John Allison
NEW YORK, 7 April 2005 - Unless peace can be achieved on the ground in Darfur in the coming months, the situation for women and children is likely to get worse. Over two million people have been affected by the crisis, and with the conflict deteriorating and a severe drought looming, UNICEF Special Representative Keith McKenzie says people in Darfur are going to require continued assistance in the months ahead.
“This is a community that’s going to need continued support – in terms of food, in terms of protection, in terms of all the services. At least for the next 18 months we will be providing support to the people in Darfur,” said Mr. McKenzie.
Those who have been forced to flee their homes have found that kind of support in one of the many camps across Darfur. Most are receiving basic necessities, and overall access to people in need is improving.
|A man pours water near a grouping of makeshift dwellings, in the Otash camp for displaced people on the outskirts of Nyala.|
But children are still vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. 1.4 million have been directly affected by the conflict. Not only do they need protection, but they also require psychosocial support to help them cope with the ordeal they’ve been through and the tragedy they’ve witnessed.
“We are dealing with their immediate physical needs in terms of nutrition, water and schooling,” Mr. McKenzie said, “but these children bear tremendous psychological scars, and that’s going to be with them for the rest of their lives, probably. And that I think is the greatest tragedy of this emergency.”
“They all want to go home,” he said, speaking of the people in the camps, “on one condition – that their security can be guaranteed.” Mr. McKenzie added that it’s extremely important to reach those families still living in the remote, rural areas of Darfur. If aid and protection can reach them in time, they may not be forced to make the dangerous and often lengthy trek to the camps.
7 April 2005:
UNICEF correspondent John Allison reports on the current situation in Darfur
9 March 2005:
Millions face hunger and thirst in Darfur