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Sudan – New Zealanders respond to crisis

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Sudan – New Zealanders respond to crisis

While we are going about our daily lives, in the faraway country of Sudan people are dying. And the tragedy unfolding will not go away. Already, one million people have been forced to leave their homes in Darfur, Western Sudan, fleeing fighting and danger.

People are running out of food, drinking water is scarce and their makeshift shelters are collapsing. Thousands of families are at risk. About 200,000 men, women and mainly children have now crossed the border into Chad.

“New Zealanders can play a key part in helping to head off what has become one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in our time,” says Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director, Barry Coates.

As the scale and severity of the crisis in Sudan begins to sink in, New Zealanders are stepping up their donations to Oxfam’s emergency appeal. Coates says more than $30,000 has been received over the last few days, following Oxfam’s urgent call for assistance for the thousands made homeless and without food by the civil unrest.

Meanwhile, the rainy season has started but, ironically it’s not good news for the thirsty refugees. Roads will be washed away and human waste will flood into water sources. Stagnant puddles will harbour malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

“Oxfam staff are working with local aid agencies to build water and sanitation facilities in the camps,” reports Coates. “We’re told that on one day last week, eleven refugees died from diarrhoea in a refugee camp in Touloum, Chad,” he said. “Over the coming months many more refugees will die of starvation, dehydration and disease. It’s a race against time to scale up the aid effort.”

Despite an emergency meeting of donors last week in Geneva, there is still a shortfall of $NZ 176 million needed to address the crisis. “The situation is spiralling out of control,” says Coates.


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