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Kiwi aid worker heads for scene of genocide

Kiwi aid worker heads for scene of genocide

World Vision New Zealand aid worker James Addis will fly to Chad this Sunday to join relief efforts for refugees fleeing mayhem in Sudan.

Late last week US Secretary of State Colin Powell described the pattern of atrocities in Sudan's Darfur province, where militia have conducted a campaign of rape, pillage and murder, as genocide.

About one million people have been displaced by the conflict including around 200,000 who have fled to neighbouring Chad.

Mr Addis said it was a relief to be an active participant in the humanitarian effort.

"Sitting at home reading the situation reports and monitoring the television news can make you feel powerless. I count it a real privilege to be asked to go," he said.

Mr Addis said fellow aid workers already in the field were feeding back consistent reports of dire conditions in refugee camps - lacking adequate shelter, clean water, sanitation and food.

"Some have resorted to eating leaves and tree roots to stay alive. Children are dying from malnutrition and preventable diseases such as diarrhoea," he said.

Mr Addis said to counter the hunger World Vision had begun food distributions in association with the World Food Programme which would eventually reach 300,000 displaced people in Sudan and Chad. The programme offered further food assistance to children and pregnant and lactating mothers. The agency has also been active in the construction of health facilities and the provision of clean water supplies to refugee camps.

Mr Addis said the progress was heartening but there was much to be done.

"Clearly the ultimate solution is for these desperate people to be able to go home and live in peace. The international community has a moral duty to exert every ounce of political and diplomatic pressure to achieve that end," he said.
New Zealanders have contributed over $500,000 to World Vision's aid efforts in Sudan and Chad. Those wishing to contribute can phone 0800 90 10 10 or visit http://www.worldvision.org.nz.

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