UN: Darfur Aid Operation Faces Collapse
United Nations agencies on Wednesday said the world's largest aid operation in Darfur is under threat because of attacks and insecurity and urged concrete steps be taken to stem the violence.
The joint statement said in the past six months about 250 000 people had been forced to flee violence, many for the second or third time, and a dozen aid workers were killed, more than at any other time during the four-year-old conflict in Sudan's remote west.
"The humanitarian community cannot indefinitely assure the survival of the population in Darfur if insecurity continues," said the joint statement from 14 UN agencies working in Sudan.
Experts estimate about 200 000 people have been killed and 2,5-million driven from their homes to miserable makeshift camps during the rape, pillage and murder in Darfur, which Washington calls genocide.
Khartoum denies genocide and says the Western media has exaggerated the conflict. The International Criminal Court is investigating alleged war crimes in the region.
British aid agency Oxfam added its voice to the UN statement.
"Increasingly violent attacks against aid workers are crippling the massive humanitarian response in Darfur, leaving hundreds of thousands of people vulnerable and under threat," said Paul Smith-Lomas, Oxfam's regional director.
"It is completely unacceptable for our staff to have to risk their lives while helping the people of Darfur," he added.
The UN statement said the Darfur humanitarian operation, employing almost 14 000 aid workers and costing more than $1-billion, had saved hundreds of thousands of lives since it began in mid-2004. But it said that work was being undone as staff are evacuated because of attacks.
"This reduction of services is leading to a deterioration of hygiene in ... camps, reflected by the cholera outbreak that struck 2 768 and killed 147 people during 2006," it said.
"Global malnutrition rates are edging perilously close to the emergency threshold," it added.