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Renewed Darfur violence forces thousands to flee

Renewed Darfur violence forces thousands from their homes

Wednesday 29 September 2004

Press release: Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Christian World Service

Christian World Service and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand report continuing attacks in Darfur, forcing thousands more people from their homes and into relief camps.

“Renewed fighting has occurred around Ta'asha in South Darfur, one of the areas where Christian World Service and Caritas partners are working,” said CWS National Director, Jonathan Fletcher, causing a huge influx of new arrivals at camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). “Attacks forced at least 5,000 people to flee their homes in the last three days. Reports say shooting is still going on.”

This recent spate of violence shows that despite recent talks at the United Nations, the Janjaweed are still heavily armed, destroying villages throughout Darfur, creating fear and chaos. People fleeing the violence are without food or water. Most arrive in the camps with few or no belongings.

"We ran away with food for only two days. It has now run out, and my children are hungry," said a mother of three children, aged fourteen, nine and four-years-old. Another woman explained how the Janjaweed militia came on horses and camels, followed by soldiers. "They started shooting at us and looted everything in the village," she said. Villagers claim as many as 300 soldiers participated in the attacks.

Since Christian World Service/Caritas began supporting working in the area, the number of IDPs has exploded. "We are extremely concerned. These people risk being totally cut off, and face famine,” said Fletcher.
At the moment, there is no shelter, food, water, sanitation or medical care available for new arrivals. Tim Chiswell, Caritas spokesperson says, “More relief aid is urgently needed. We are asking New Zealanders to give generously to the Caritas/Christian World Service appeal.”

Caritas/Christian World Service partners have been working in relief camps throughout Darfur in the Nyala, Zalingi and Ta’asha and are responsible for distributing food, water, shelter, sanitation and healthcare to thousands of families who have been forced to flee their homes following attacks by the Janjaweed. The massive influx of people is putting pressure on aid.

"We are being told of mothers sitting in the open space, trying to comfort their children. They are very traumatised and desperate for help. They fear what will now happen. They no longer have enough food to feed their children," said Chiswell.

New Zealander Kate Zwartz is currently in Darfur, establishing water and sanitation services, as part of the Christian World Service and Caritas response. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Christian World Service are running an appeal to assist the people of Sudan.


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