- A famine is likely to develop among the one million people uprooted in Sudan's Darfur provinces, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) today warns, as a cooperation between the genocidal Janjaweed militia and the Sudanese government is finally documented. Ironically, the Sudanese government now is urged to cooperate to avoid a full-fledged famine in Darfur, where aid workers and journalists still don't have full access.
WFP leader James Morris, today in London underlined "the severity of the humanitarian challenge facing more than a million people displaced from their homes by armed conflict" in the Darfur region of western Sudan, and over a hundred thousand Sudanese refugees who have fled across the border to Chad.
- This is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with so many people in the most belligerent way being chased from their homes, Mr Morris said. "Everything has been taken away from these people. This is tragic," he added.
Mr Morris was speaking after leading a high level humanitarian mission to Sudan and then travelling to visit refugee camps in eastern Chad. The UN mission to Sudan visited the three states of Darfur from 28-30 April, and gathered first hand information on the humanitarian situation in the region.
The UN mission now in particular called upon the government of Sudan "to accelerate its efforts to control armed militias, provide security and protection for displaced people, and to facilitate access for humanitarian agencies."
Repeated attacks by the so-called Janjaweed "Arab" militia, including the burning of villages, widespread looting and systematic destruction of livelihoods, had "left displaced people destitute," the WFP said today. Local social services, such as health care and education, had collapsed.
The Janjaweed militia is composed of so-called Arab herders and is attacking the settlements of "African peoples" in the Darfur region. Speculations that the Janjaweed militia is supported and armed by the "Arab-dominated" government in Khartoum were confirmed this weekend as a team of the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK managed to enter Darfur from Chad.
The NRK team captured pictures of heavily armed Janjaweed militiamen patrolling together with regular soldiers of the Sudanese government and policemen interviewed in presence of the Janjaweed. The area was in total control of the Janjaweed cooperating with government representatives.
The Janjaweed militia is accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide preparations in the Darfur provinces, traditionally dominated by "Africans". Most "African" settlements have been burnt, their agricultural production, livestock and water sources have been destroyed, men have been massacred and mass violations of Darfur women have been reported. Most civilians have now fled to larger towns or into Chad.
Despite a ceasefire signed on 8 April, and a consequent reduction of hostilities between the Janjaweed, their allied government forces and the Darfurian guerrilla, the humanitarian crisis continues, the WFP emphasises today. People want to return home but are unwilling to do so until they feel reassured that security has been restored.
While aid workers now are let to visit some areas, in particular the towns housing internally displaced, international aid into Darfur is still limited by the Sudanese government. Ironically, the WFP and other UN and humanitarian organisations depend on the good will of the Khartoum government - the allied of the Janjaweed militia - to be able to work in Darfur.
And there is no time to lose, according to Mr Morris. "There's an urgency about our work because people are suffering, and the rainy season is just ahead of us and we need to get our work done as much in anticipation of the rainy season as is possible," the WFP leader said.
- We had an excellent meeting with the donor community, Mr Morris added. "We also then asked the [Sudanese] government for its support to quickly make decisions about applications for visas, for travel permits, and the importing of vehicles or other equipment we may need. We made clear to the government how important their quick response to these requests is."
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