|© UNICEF Sudan/2005/Salem|
|UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mahmoud Kabil vaccinates a child against polio in a camp for people forced from their homes in Darfur.|
CAIRO, 6 March 2005 - Following a visit to Darfur, UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa Mahmoud Kabil issued an appeal to Arab countries to support children and women, who have borne the brunt of the conflict. “It is not possible that the children of this region are suffering so much with almost no Arab support to UNICEF activities,” Mr. Kabil said.
“Also, I saw very little Arab presence on the ground in Darfur, with the exception of some very brave NGOs.”
Kabil was speaking about his visit to camps for several thousand people forced from their homes in West and South Darfur. A total of approximately 2.6 million people have been affected by the conflict.
The situation in Darfur
UNICEF support for those affected by the Darfur conflict has focused on health, water and sanitation, education and child protection. Immunization campaigns have protected 1.3 million children against polio and over 2 million against measles. Some 75,000 malnourished children have received support through 100 feeding programmes.
More than a million people now have access to safe drinking water, while improved sanitation is now available for 800,000 people in schools, health facilities and dwellings.
Around 1200 classrooms have been built and 54 schools repaired, serving 170,000 children. UNICEF continues to provide school supplies.
Some 130 safe areas offer protection against violence and provide trauma treatment for 85,000 children.
However, the needs in Darfur remain larger than available resources: 1.2 million people lack safe water, 70% of children are out of school, and women and children are exposed to ongoing violence. So far, UNICEF has received less than 20% of the $135 million requested for Darfur in 2005.
As a UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador, Mahmoud Kabil will visit the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and will report on his mission to Darfur. Mr. Kabil will add his voice to those seeking to mobilize Arab support for UNICEF humanitarian work.
Mr. Kabil’s appeal to Arab countries concluded: “Today, I appeal to Arab governments, Arab development funds, and Arab civil society to step forward and provide concrete, practical support to UNICEF activities in Darfur. We have a moral imperative to redirect our attention to what continues to be the worst humanitarian crisis in today’s world and make every possible effort to engage leaders and help relieve humanity from this calamity.
“Here and now, the Arab world has a responsibility to promote the dignity and well-being of the children and women of Darfur.”