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Press release

Children in Darfur in better health but more needs to be done

KHARTOUM, 20 October 2005 – The global acute malnutrition rate among children aged 6-59 months in Darfur has improved from 21.8 per cent in September 2004 to 11.9 per cent in October 2005 as a result of a sustained and integrated humanitarian assistance programme. 

This was revealed following a comprehensive Darfur-wide nutrition and food security assessment carried out by the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and supported by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, NGO partners, and with technical input from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The sample for the survey was drawn from the 3.2 million Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities in the Darfur region of Sudan. More than 100 experts and enumerators from the three UN agencies and partners were deployed and visited over 2,000 households.

The survey showed that coverage of food aid, selective feeding programs, safe drinking water and sanitation and health programmes has improved in the IDP camps and surrounding host populations but that assistance to affected populations in the rural areas, particularly in non-governmental areas, has been extremely low.

54 Therapeutic Feeding centres and 96 Supplementary Feeding Centers, supported by UNICEF, WFP and other partners, assist approximately 25,000 malnourished children every month. 

Despite these significant achievements, much still needs to be done: micronutrient deficiency is still a major problem with one in four women suffering from iodine deficiency disorder; only 69% of under-5 children are immunized against measles and 14% women suffering from night blindness.

Over the next 3 months, UNICEF aims to provide iodized oil, iron, and folic acid capsules to around 750,000 children under the age of five and women of child bearing age (15-45).

“Assistance needs to reach communities in the rural areas while we continue to sustain ongoing services in the IDP camps and immediate surrounding areas. Women and children in these hard-to-reach rural areas are now the most vulnerable and are at high risk of malnutrition and disease,” said UNICEF Special Representative for the Darfur Emergency, Keith McKenzie. “The recent increase in conflict, banditry and general insecurity threatens to undo the gains made as assistance programmes are being severely curtailed,” he added.

UNICEF appealed to the international community to continue to support international efforts to ensure that this does not happen.

The final survey report is due to be released shortly and will assist UNICEF and partners in the prioritization of key emergency nutrition interventions and improving Infant and young child feeding practices in the Darfur region.

For further information, contact:

Roshan Khadivi, UNICEF Darfur News Desk: +249-12-177291, rkhadivi@unicef.org

Anis Salem, UNICEF Reg’l Communication Adviser, Amman: +962-6-553-9977, asalem@unicef.org

Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Media, Geneva: +41 22 909 5716, dpersonnaz@unicef.org

Gordon Weiss, UNICEF Media, New York + 1 212 326 7583 gweiss@unicef.org




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