Darfur Faces Another Food Emergency

Caritas Issues Warning as Rainy Season Nears

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ROME, JUNE 13, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The staff of Caritas’ international network working in the Sudanese region of Darfur has warned about the «calamitous situation» that might ensue within weeks.

According to U.N. agencies present in the area, over the next two months more than 3.5 million people will need urgent food aid throughout the region — 25% more than last year.

«Darfur is on the brink of a critical situation,» warned Anthony Mahony, an expert in humanitarian operations for British Caritas.

«Since the last rainy season, we have still not been able to restock our food reserves, while the number of people who need food continues to increase,» he said. «People are at the limit of their endurance and after several months of living in refugee camps in extreme conditions, and the lack of food might be fatal for many of them over the next months.»

Poor access roads to the refugee camps have stifled the work of humanitarian agencies, which have not been able to supplement their food reserves in view of the forthcoming rainy season. The coming rains are expected to worsen the situation.

Vulnerable children

Officials warn of an increasing risk of infections from the use of contaminated water, especially diarrhea, which can be fatal for high-risk groups such as children.

The Caritas/Action by Churches Together network has opened a center for supplementary food distribution in El Dhein, to help the most vulnerable groups: children under 5, and pregnant or nursing women.

The staff working in this center confirmed that one out of every three children they treat is malnourished.

This Caritas/ACT center is now feeding 25,000 malnourished children in southern Darfur.

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