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Darfur (Sudan/Chad) - Region in crisis


Situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate

© UNICEF Sudan/2004
UNICEF Special Representative to Sudan, Keith McKenzie

NEW YORK, 22 December 2004 – The situation in Darfur is steadily declining according to UNICEF’s recently appointed Special Representative to Darfur.

“The situation in Darfur is very unstable, very fluid,” said Keith McKenzie, speaking from Chad where he is visiting the eleven refugee camps that have been established to house the 200,000 people that have fled across the border from Sudan since the conflict began. “Access to the people in Darfur is becoming more difficult. We have less access today than three months ago. We are not able to reach the people in need.”

The people have Darfur have been driven from their villages by marauding Janjaweed militia groups. Villagers who are afraid to return home have flooded into urban areas or are living in camps in Sudan and Chad, existing on help from international aid agencies. Nearly 2.56 million people have been affected by the conflict, which has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Of the 200,000 refugees in Chad, 63,000 are children. One of the most important goals for UNICEF is to make sure that they all receive schooling. Over 900 classrooms have been either rehabilitated or constructed.

Aid agencies are working hard to support Darfur’s displaced population. 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.

McKenzie says that while the atmosphere of violence around the camps is not as severe in Chad as it is in Sudan, he fears that because both government and rebel groups continue to commit ceasefire violations, the conflict can only continue to deteriorate.

There are 7,000 humanitarian workers in Darfur and they too have become the target of violence.

Save the Children UK has withdrawn from Darfur following the deaths of four staff members in the past two months as well as a series of what it calls “extremely serious security incidents.”

“The killing of staff is extremely worrying,” said Mr. McKenzie, “if human rights workers are not able to continue with their work it becomes even more difficult to provide support to people in need.”



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22 December 2004: UNICEF Special Representative to Darfur Keith McKenzie discusses why the crisis in Darfur continues to worsen

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