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Darfur Camp Attack Hinders Aid Operations

28 August 2008

Darfur Camp Attack Hinders Aid Operations

The New Zealander heading one of the largest relief operations in south and west Darfur says a security clampdown following a Sudanese armed forces attack on a camp in south Darfur is hindering his operation.

The attack killed more than 30 people and injured many more, and has been condemned by the UN-African Union peacekeeping force as “excessive” and “disproportionate”.
Aucklander Wayne Mitchell heads the ACT-Caritas Darfur Emergency Response Operation (Dero) providing aid to 250,000 people.

Mr Mitchell said heightened security in the area had impacted Dero’s work. Dero staff have been trying to respond to severe flooding in another camp near the attacked camp, Kalma. Several people have drowned, while overflowing latrines are threatening the population with cholera and other diseases.

“We’ve been wanting to move in with non-food items – blankets and shelter materials – and deal with the situation with the latrines,” said Mr Mitchell. “But security around Kalma camp is restricting us in moving into that area.”

Heightened security around government checkpoints is slowing ACT-Caritas’ distribution of other items to west Darfur from its Nyala headquarters.

The recent hijacking of a Sudanese airliner – with an ACT-Caritas staff member on board – has heightened security concerns and measures for the relief operation.

ACT-Caritas and other humanitarian agencies in Darfur have been on a level four security footing –one step from full evacuation – since the International Criminal Court prosecutor sought genocide charges against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Dero is supported by New Zealand agencies Christian World Service and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, presently running a joint appeal for Darfur. Phone 0800 22 10 22 (Caritas) or 0800 74 73 72 (CWS) or visit caritas.org.nz or cws.org.nz.

Dero provides water and sanitation, shelter, health, education and agriculture services, and has been operating in the region since the early days of the Darfur crisis in 2004.


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