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World Vision ready to enter Sudan hell

World Vision ready to enter Sudan hell

World Vision this week got the all clear to enter western Sudan, where a militia terror campaign has displaced a million people and left thousands of children starving.

World Vision New Zealand executive director Helen Green said the agency was now ready to undertake major relief operations in Darfur to save lives.

"So far we have been confined to assisting Sudanese refugees who have fled to neighbouring Chad. Although the plight of these refugees is heartbreaking we believe the situation in Darfur itself is even more serious," she said.

But Mrs Green said the logistical challenges ahead were enormous.

"Darfur is an area the size of France, roads are poor and the rainy season makes it even more difficult to get supplies and personnel in place."

The clearance to enter western Sudan follows the declaration of a cease-fire between the Sudanese government and rebel factions, and a commitment by the government to grant visas to humanitarian workers.

World Vision has accorded the emergency in Darfur Category III status, the highest on the agency's scale of humanitarian need. Senior relief personnel from around the world are being recalled to the region to activate the agency's relief response.

Meanwhile World Vision continues to assist thousands of refugees who have fled to Chad and are now crowded into makeshift camps in the desert facing stifling heat.

World Vision aid worker Angela Mason said six to eight children were dying each day from dehydration and diarrhoea.

"When you see camels dying you realise just how bad the heat is," she said.

World Vision will distribute food, plastic sheeting, jerry cans, cooking pots and water purification tablets to assist refugees, and run special child protection programmes.

World Vision New Zealand has so far contributed NZ$100,000 to the relief response and is urging New Zealanders to give generously to its Sudan Crisis Appeal.

World Vision Sudan Crisis Appeal: Ph: 0800 90 10 10

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