SUDAN: Agencies seek US$1.8 billion for projects

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Humanitarian, recovery and development projects in Sudan will require at least US $1.8 billion in 2007, according to a work plan unveiled by the United Nations, NGOs and the Sudanese government on Tuesday.

Most of the funds – $1.26 billion – are for humanitarian activities for large numbers of people still in considerable need, with nearly half the amount dedicated to the war-torn western region of Darfur.

"The investment we are calling for is critical for Sudan’s transition from a conflict-afflicted nation dependant upon the provision of humanitarian assistance to a nation increasingly capable of providing for the needs of its population," said Manuel Aranda da Silva, Deputy Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General and Humanitarian/Resident Coordinator in Sudan.

Sudan’s humanitarian operation represents the largest slice of the $3.7 billion appeal by the UN Secretary-General for humanitarian assistance worldwide in 2007.

According to the UN, the amount requested for recovery and development has more than doubled, reflecting the commitment to continue rebuilding infrastructure, especially in the south where, for the first time, recovery and development operations have exceeded humanitarian activities.

The ongoing humanitarian programme in Darfur will require more than $650 million, while humanitarian and recovery operations in the south will require $627 million, the work plan noted.

Nearly four million people have been affected by conflict in the country and most of the two million internally displaced (IDPs) in Darfur are expected to remain dependant upon direct food aid.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned on Tuesday that the recent upsurge in fighting in Darfur had scattered thousands of people into remote areas and distant villages.

Since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement last May, violence against civilians and aid workers has increased in the region. According to agencies, more than 480,000 people have been affected by the renewed clashes.

"One of the most serious consequences of the upsurge in fighting in all three Darfur states since the end of the rainy season has been the increase in the number of people displaced from villages that have been attacked or lie close to front lines," the ICRC said.

Unexploded ordnance in and around Darfur villages, it warned, was also a threat to people and animals. "Anyone who touches an UXO [unexploded ordnance] is likely to be killed, or at best maimed, if it explodes," the ICRC said, noting, however, that clearance was ongoing.

Last week, Concern Worldwide, Goal, International Rescue Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam International and World Vision warned that recent attacks by armed militias in North and West Darfur States had destabilised the region further, forcing aid agencies to evacuate 250 international staff members in December.

"If the deterioration is allowed to continue, the impact on civilians could be devastating. With new displacements and attacks, the presence of aid agencies is more important than ever. Yet every day brings one huge blow after another to aid efforts," said Paul Smith-Lomas, Regional Director for Oxfam.

One agency evacuated staff manning an operation in Shaeria, South Darfur, which was supporting 130,000 people, after armed men assaulted them and stole three vehicles. About 20,000 IDPs had just arrived in El Daein to join another 30,000. In North Darfur, more than 100,000 IDPs were without support after agencies pulled staff out of Kutum.

"There is a general decline in security right across Darfur," said Oxfam spokeswoman Caroline Nursey, adding that the North Darfur capital of El Fasher, with a sprawling refugee camp of 100,000 people, was at particular risk.

At least 200,000 people are estimated to have died since the Darfur conflict began in 2003 between government forces, allied militias and rebels seeking greater autonomy. More than two million people are displaced.
Source: IRIN
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