Sudan/Darfur: Action Against Hunger Responds to Major Humanitarian Crisis
Faced with the prospect of the crisis dragging on in Darfur, Sudan, Action Against Hunger / Action Contre la Faim (ACF), a leading nutritional aid organization, is continuing its relief efforts. Our priorities are currently two-fold:
- Intervene on behalf of populations in the most remote areas, who derive little benefit from current humanitarian aid due to inaccessibility and security difficulties.
- Work on medium-range prospects, in particular agricultural revival programs that will make family food autonomy possible.
Furthermore, although Darfur’s nutritional situation appears to have stabilized in a significant number of areas thanks to international humanitarian efforts, child malnutrition remains particularly high in Nyala with a global malnutrition rate of 26%, 3% of which is severe. Having installed nutritional centers in North and South Darfur, our teams are starting a new in-home treatment program in an urgent effort to reduce these alarming rates.
The Darfur conflict is one of the most tragic humanitarian crises in the past 10 years, with more than 1 million displaced persons and 1.5 million affected Sudanese. Pressure from the international community, along with strong humanitarian mobilization, has kept several thousand people from dying of hunger and sickness, and this mobilization must continue. However, at this stage in the crisis, it is vital that the parties in conflict be rapidly guided in finding a long-lasting solution to their disagreements.
A Pessimistic Future
"We have no choice but to be pessimistic about the situation of the civilian population of Darfur. It must be made known that the barbaric acts continue, with the majority of townspeople afraid to return to their villages. Without serious guarantees of protection, at the moment, the people have no future prospects whatsoever," stated Benoît Miribel, General Director of Action Against Hunger, upon his return from Darfur. Cultivated land has been substantially reduced and harvests are practically nonexistent. The people are now completely dependent on food aid, and will continue to be so for several months more. Furthermore, a return of the displaced persons to their homes is inconceivable, as in the current climate it would mean certain death.
It is vital that concrete political progress be made known so that people can foresee hope for the future, lest the conflict drag on. Miribel adds: "As a humanitarian player, we feel we are fulfilling our mission in the country; but humanitarianism must not become an excuse for political inaction."