348508_44124480466@N01.jpg Sudanese baby Africa Oil Watch: Crisis in Darfur: One million people could die before Christmas

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Crisis in Darfur: One million people could die before Christmas

A few months ago, USAID were quoted as saying that one million Sudanese refugees will die if the aid does not get through, and 300,000 will die if aid does get through. Soon afterwards, they received a huge amount of funding from the US government.

The figure of one million is being used again today in a Reuters report of Medair's appeal. (website: http://www.medair.org).

Note, whenever there are major news developments during humanitarian crises, the aid agencies waste no time in ramping up their appeals. Perhaps it is something they do on a regular monthly, bimonthly or quarterly basis. I'm not implying they are wrong to do so - it's just something I've noticed while following the news on Darfur and the aid agencies.

I've started this journal to log some news reports of the crisis in Darfur relating to the aid agencies, especially those connected with the U.N., so in time one can look back and get a glimpse into how they operate. The aim here is to explore why the public are desensitised towards appeals for aid; get a sense of what the agencies are doing to meet the needs of those in need - and see if they are good value for money. This journal is work in progress and an experiment in group blogging whilst acting as an electronic filing cabinet for future reference.

American blogger Patrick Hall at The Horn of Africa blog is the first contributor to this group blog. More about that in a later post. Anyone is free to contribute ideas or relevant material via email or in a comment here. Blogger's commenting facility here enables those without a blogspot to comment, but it seems bloggers need to provide their URL (and email if they wish) within the comment itself.

Below is an excerpt from Medair's emotive appeal in Reuters' report. There are a few inaccuracies: the Darfur conflict is in its eighteenth month; death toll is estimated at 50,000 - 80,000; refugees are numbered at 1.2 - 1.5m; some reports say 2m or 2.2m to including the refugees in Chad. As and when I find more accurate reports, I will log them here:

"As you read this appeal, the people of Darfur in western Sudan are in the grips of what the United Nations has called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.

Over the past 15 months an explosion of violence has caused the death of thousands of people and the displacement of more than one million people, fleeing to major towns or across the border into Chad. A lack of even the most basic supplies and services, in particular food and water, have left people in a most desperate state.

Can you imagine the population of Birmingham (UK) or Detroit (Michigan, USA) being wiped out by December 2004? The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has calculated that in the worst case more than a million people will die in Darfur over the next few months. At best, this figure will be 300,000 they say. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has described the situation as a pending ‘catastrophe’."


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