World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


UNICEF calls for halt to Darfur fighting

UNICEF calls for halt to Darfur fighting

Children and women bear the brunt of savage fighting in western Sudan


UNICEF said today that attacks on civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan are threatening the lives of the hundreds of thousands of children who have fled their homes.

Speaking from New York, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy called on the government of Sudan to "enforce the rule of law, and take aggressive steps to protect civilians." She also called on the warring parties to agree to an immediate cease-fire, and ensure safe access for humanitarian agencies and supplies for all those displaced by the fighting.

Attacks on villages in recent days by horse and camel-mounted Arab militias and organized bands of outlaws have sent renewed waves of thousands of people, mostly women and children, trekking in harsh conditions to seek refuge in the towns of Darfur.

An estimated 100,000 displaced have already reached Kutum in North Darfur, with more arriving each day. Aid agencies estimate that as many as 750,000 civilians may have already been displaced by months of fighting.

On Monday Sudanese President El Bashir authorised the opening of corridors for humanitarian aid to some areas to which civilians have escaped, after weeks during which humanitarian workers had virtually no access.

Just back from a visit to the towns of Kutum and El Geneina, JoAnna Van Gerpen, UNICEF's Representative in Sudan, described the condition of displaced civilians as "shocking."

"One mother had arrived in Kutum three days earlier with her nine children from a village just three kms away" said Van Gerpen. "They were camped with thousands of others in dry riverbeds littered with animal faeces. Her only possessions were the clothes on her back and a jerry can for water provided by humanitarian workers."

"Tens of thousands are living in the open or in flimsy roofless shelters made of grass, too terrified to leave the town."

According to Van Gerpen the displaced are in a fragile condition, with the combined threat of insufficient food, poor sanitation, scarce water and crowded conditions providing a fertile breeding ground for disease.

UNICEF and its partners are trucking water to camps and constructing wells, but the numbers of people who continue to escape the systematic burning of villages is threatening to overwhelm resources. Health services are hampered by the absence of health workers who have fled to safer areas.

"And these are the lucky ones, the ones we can reach," said Van Gerpen. "Hundreds of thousands of other people forced from their homes are in areas that cannot be reached by humanitarian workers due to insecurity or government restrictions."

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news