Caritas Joins New Relief Programs in Darfur

Crisis Also Looms in Upper Nile Area of Sudan

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 29, 2004 ( A new program is being launched in the joint humanitarian response of Caritas Internationalis and Action by Churches Together International in the Darfur region of Sudan.

This ecumenical partnership, known as the ACT/Caritas Darfur Emergency Response (ACDER), will enter a new stage this weekend with the construction of health facilities. In addition, mobile relief and service units are being organized to move from camp to camp and to remote areas.

On Friday, ACDER will begin setting up three temporary health facilities in the towns of Kubum, Um Labasa and Dararusa to assist the displaced who are suffering from malnutrition and disease, Caritas Internationalis said today.

Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and social service organizations.

Health facilities and hospitals in rural areas are no longer functioning and no other medical care is available for the population other than the ACDER facilities. The rehabilitation of existing facilities will be arranged by ACDER following the emergency stage of the Darfur crisis in western Sudan.

Three ACT/Caritas bases are planned in the towns of Nyalla, Zalingi and El Geniena to serve the Darfur refugees in the surrounding areas.

These offices will organize programs in the sectors of environmental health, health and nutrition, protection, counseling and the distribution of non-food items.

Fifty-six vehicles will provide mobile units, each unit equipped to work in one particular sector. These units will move into camps to work on particular problems, such as sanitation, until the situation is stabilized and then move on to the next camp.

Another humanitarian crisis is arising in the Upper Nile area of Sudan. Inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic fighting in the region has resulted in 120,000 people losing their homes and livelihoods. Most have fled to garrison towns for sanctuary, with 30,000 displaced people fleeing to the town of Malakal to find refuge with relatives.

The sudden influx of people has overcrowded the living quarters, creating poor sanitation and jeopardizing the clean water supply.

Caritas has made a funding appeal to enable the local Church to provide assistance to 2,000 families within and around Malakal. The appeal seeks funds for the provision of shelter, blankets, mosquito nets, basic household utensils, and soap.

Local schools that have taken in the children of the displaced will also be assisted, and provisions will be made to help people resume their livelihoods when conditions allow.

The appeal seeks to raise nearly $300,000 for a six-month relief and rehabilitation program in Malakal.

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