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Darfur: huge funding shortfall threatens 2 million

Darfur: huge funding shortfall threatens 2 million children, UNICEF warns

Nearly 2 million children in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region are threatened by severe funding shortfalls, with only 11 per cent of the urgently needed $89 million either committed or pledged, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today.

“Without significant and immediate funding, and given existing problems with security and access, the humanitarian crisis that was averted only last year will return,” country representative Ted Chaiban said.

“Conflict in Darfur has entered its third year and is no longer front page news. UNICEF is sounding the alarm that lack of funding for essential water and sanitation, health, education and protection programmes is an additional threat facing children.”

With only $10.9 million committed or pledged, 89 per cent is still outstanding of the total funding UNICEF needs to operate in the region for the remainder of the year. These resources will run out in a matter of months.

“Nearly 2 million children depend on our efforts to protect them from disease, from the effects of conflict and to provide opportunities for schooling,” Mr. Chaiban said, outlining the serious consequences, including:

• Without resources to maintain cold chain systems and fund special campaigns, fewer children will be vaccinated, greatly increasing the

• If maintenance and expansion of water and sanitation systems in rural areas are halted, millions of people could face the threat of incresed water-borne diseases that spread rapidly and lethally in close quarters.

• Schools will be forced to close, leaving hundreds of thousands of children without access to education. Some 382,000 children have benefited from UNICEF programmes, including the provision of education supplies and teacher salaries.

• Increased insecurity has already prevented aid agencies from reaching over a half million people; if the funding shortage continues, that number will grow.

“In so many cases, people are still entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance because the conflict has not been resolved,” Mr. Chaiban said. “We must act now to keep, continue and encourage peace.”

Peace talks in the Nigerian capital of Abuja have so far failed to end the conflict in Darfur, where fighting between government forces, pro-government militias and rebels have led to the deaths of at least 180,000 people and uprooted more than 2 million others over the past three years.

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