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Darfur Refugee Crisis Deepens

© UNICEF/2004
Refugees fleeing the fighting in Darfur face harsh conditions as the rainy season approaches.

DARFUR, Sudan 30 April 2004 - A harsh wind blows across a makeshift refugee camp in Chad where hundreds of thousands of people are seeking safety from the fighting in Sudan. One million people have already abandoned their homes and possessions in Darfur and now face extreme hardship. UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies are struggling to provide shelter, food and water.

The refugees say they are the victims of ethnic cleansing and have accused the Government of using the Arab janjaweed militia to get rid of the black African population.

Meanwhile, aid agencies such as UNICEF are trying to improve conditions for the refugees, many of whom have been maimed and traumatised. This emergency hospital on the Sudanese border is treating victims of the fighting including wounded and sick children.

Doctors at an emergency hospital in Tine on the border between Chad and Sudan are seeing victims of mine explosions. Some people have limbs so badly damaged that they have to be amputated.

“The situation here at Tine following the events in Darfur is very dramatic,” says Dr Louis Kakudji.  “The population has been totally abandoned, here you find severe atrocities happening, nobody can close their eyes to what is taking place. The people have been totally abandoned and have no solutions to their problems.”

Temperatures at night in the desert can plummet and the weather will worsen when the rainy season starts. Thousands of people will need to be relocated to purpose built camps such as Farchana in Chad.

The need for clean water is crucial and UNICEF hopes to repair three hundred hand pumps in Darfur as well as boring holes for new wells. Women and children are particularly vulnerable as conditions deteriorate and UNICEF will vaccinate 2.6 million children against measles over the next few weeks.



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