As many as 300,000 people in Sudan could die due to the current crisis in
the West Darfur region, according to reports from the United States Agency
for International Development (USAID). The feared toll was based on studies
of malnutrition and mortality rates in Sudan.
Civil war has crippled Darfur for the past year, and innocent civilians,
who have become refugees due to the current crisis, are the most serious
victims. Over one million people have fled their homes and abandoned farms,
mostly to avoid the "janjaweed" gangs, which U.N. officials have accused of
ethnic cleansing. The refugees' plight is certain to become more desperate
with this month's onset of the rainy season, which their current living
conditions will not be able to withstand.
Tens of thousands have died or been injured as a direct result of the
conflict, with many more deaths as a result of conflict-related diseases.
Jan Egeland from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) reports, "It is a race against the clock.
The biggest human drama anywhere in the world is unfolding in Darfur." With
over one million people displaced, the United Nations has called Darfur
"the world's greatest humanitarian crisis."
Islamic Relief Action
Islamic Relief USA staff is monitoring the humanitarian crisis in the
western Sudanese region of Darfur. According to the United Nations, the
crisis in the western Sudanese region of Darfur is currently the worst
humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in the world. The United Nations
has estimated that, out of a pre-conflict population in Darfur of 6.5
million, approximately 1 million people have been internally displaced
within Sudan and more than 110,000 people have fled across the border into
neighboring Chad as a result of this conflict.
Because of the unstable security situation on the ground, delivery of
humanitarian assistance to the conflict-affected populations has been
severely impeded. On April 8 the government of Sudan and the opposition
Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
signed a 45-day renewable ceasefire agreement which includes a pledge to
guarantee safe passage of humanitarian aid to Darfur.
A delegation from Islamic Relief offices in the United States, United
Kingdom and France recently visited Darfur to monitor the situation. Two
Islamic Relief USA representatives, Anwar Khan and Arif Shaikh returned
from Sudan this week. According to Shaikh, "The living conditions of the
displaced people are simply shocking. Thousands of people have been living
in huts made of 4 pieces of straw for several months. As the rainy season
approaches, their situation will only get worse, as their current shelter
will not be able to withstand the rain. Due to the poor living conditions,
there are also very serious health problems in the region, including a
Islamic Relief Worldwide has five offices in Sudan and has been working in
the country for over 20 years. IRW currently operates Internally Displaced
People (IDP) camps in Darfur, in addition to other emergency projects.
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