|UNICEF UK Ambassador for Humanitarian Emergencies Martin Bell|
DARFUR, 11 August 2004 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Martin Bell says the humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur is one of the worst he’s ever seen. The former BBC news veteran was travelling with UNICEF to witness the crisis which has affected more than a million people.
In a report for MSNBC’s Lester Holt Live, he describes how floods and famine are compounding the suffering already caused by armed conflict and ethnic violence.
“In nearly 40 years of travelling the world I have not witnessed any catastrophe that so vividly combines the worst of everything,” he says.
He spent two days in one area where a third of the region is inaccessible to aid agencies. The World Food Programme is distributing 1400 tons of food by air, while UNICEF has brokered a deal with warring factions to allow safe access to children needing immunization.
“The Government of Sudan has admitted it doesn’t have the resources to cope with this calamity. The aid agencies are wondering whether they have either, at present levels of staffing and funding,” he says.
“And the numbers in the camps aren’t falling but rising. Every estimate so far of death and displacement has all too soon become an underestimate.”