Joint UN, Sudan assessment of Darfur aid reveals critical gaps

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3/26/2009 6:38:16 PM -

United Nations humanitarian officials have commended the cooperation of Sudanese Government staff on an assessment of relief needs in war-torn Darfur, while they warned of high risks ahead following the ouster of crucial aid groups.

While a 'significant effort' is being made by the Government, the UN and remaining aid groups to plug some of the immediate gaps, 'these are band-aid solutions, if I can put it that way, not long-term solutions,' John Holmes, Emergency Relief Coordinator, told reporters in New York.

A statement from the UN office in Accra said for the long-term, the survey, conducted between 11 and 19 March discovered gaps in food aid; health and nutrition; non-food items and shelter; and water, sanitation and hygiene upon which some 4.7 million Darfur residents depended for survival.

Sudan decided to eject 13 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provided much of that aid on March 4, immediately after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Al-Bashir.

The operations of three national NGOs have also been suspended.

Concrete plans would have to be put in place if these gaps were to be bridged in a sustainable, long-term manner two months from now, Ameerah Haq,

the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, said in the country's capital, Khartoum, as she released the results of the joint assessment.

Funding, plus adequate technical management, coordination and administration, previously provided by the experienced NGOs, must be replaced, Ms. Haq stressed.

In the area of water, she said that currently, over 850,000 people were still being served, thanks to the quick engagement of the Government's water department, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and national NGOs.

However, within four weeks existing funds for spare parts and fuel for water pumps and other necessities will be depleted, while sanitary facilities will need urgent maintenance to prevent disease outbreaks.

While the Sudanese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) are trying to address the gaps in health care, according to the assessment, salaries and staff are in place only until the end of April and up to 650,000 people currently does not have access to full health care.

The survey showed that food needs had been covered for March and April for about 1.1 million people, thanks to a one-time distribution by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) through local food committees.


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