|A small child at a feeding centre in Kalma Camp, South Darfur|
NEW YORK, 8 November 2004 – The United Nations Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, says that intervention is urgently needed to protect Darfur’s vulnerable children.
In remarks made after his briefing today for the United Nations Security Council, he said: “Children are in a desperate situation. Sanitation in the camps is still not a hundred percent. Child soldiers are being recruited. I fear there is not much of a future for people who have been in a situation of despair for so long.”
Mr. Pronk said the overall security situation is extremely tenuous. More than 70,000 people have died in Darfur from hunger and disease and 1.5 million have fled their homes since conflict began in February last year.
Enmeshed in the turmoil in Darfur, women and children are exposed to ongoing brutality. “It is a fact that I’ve come with many examples of lack of protection of people – for instance police brutality, and there is rape,” Mr. Pronk said.
Aid agencies are working hard to support Darfur’s displaced population. Over 900 classrooms have been either rehabilitated or constructed. UNICEF, with its partners, has provided more than 800,000 people with access to safe water and approximately 50,000 people with sanitation facilities. Since May of this year, UNICEF has helped establish 150 health facilities, helped to vaccinate more than two million children against measles and more than one million children against polio.
Despite these efforts, more needs to be done. Ever greater numbers of people in Darfur are being affected by the persistent violence and insecurity.
The United Nations describes Darfur as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and has threatened sanctions against Sudan if the violence isn’t stopped. The African Union hopes to have a 4,000-strong force in place by the end of November. Several hundred Nigerian and Rwandan troops are currently in Darfur.