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Sudan: Urgent Action Needed For 1million People

Sudan peace deal an important start: Urgent action needed for one million displaced people in Darfur

“Don’t start celebrating yet. There are still one million people who have been terrorised and have fled from their homes in western Sudan” is the message from international development agency Oxfam New Zealand, as it welcomes the peace deal covering the conflict in the South.

“It is fantastic news that a peace accord has finally been reached in the north-south conflict in Sudan” said Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand. “But it would be a tragedy if this good news made people think that the catastrophe unfolding in Darfur in western Sudan was over.”

The situation in Darfur remains critical and was described this week as “the biggest humanitarian drama of our time” by a UN spokesperson on the ground. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan today expressed concern that “the grave humanitarian emergency and the massive violation of human rights in Darfur” is ongoing and acknowledged the need for emergency assistance.

More than two million people are caught up in the Darfur conflict and one million have fled for their lives from the Arab Sudanese militias that have terrorised the villages of the predominantly black African Sudanese.

“Oxfam workers in Darfur are racing against the clock to save lives” said Coates. “The people are afraid to go home because of the militias, yet they face starvation if they don’t get their food crops planted soon. Primitive conditions in the camps pose a major threat to life, with diseases like cholera likely to break out once the rains start.”

Earlier this week, Oxfam New Zealand launched a public appeal for funds to avert a humanitarian disaster in the region. Oxfam has worked in Sudan for over twenty years. It is currently working with local people to upgrade water sources and dig new wells, install toilets and provide the basics for cooking and washing.

For further information, photos or to arrange an interview, please contact: Barry Coates, Executive Director, Oxfam NZ on 09 355 6500 or 025 366 205

The Oxfam NZ appeal is on the website http://www.oxfam.org.nz.

A free phone line is open: 0800 700 600

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