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Sudan/Chad: British Red Cross keeping people alive in Darfur

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BRITISH RED CROSS LAUNCHES URGENT APPEAL

The British Red Cross has launched an urgent appeal to support tens of thousands of traumatised people, subjected to years of unimaginable suffering, who are now stranded in areas of Darfur that many aid agencies cannot reach.

Leigh Daynes, spokesman for the British Red Cross has just returned from South Darfur. He said: "The conflict in Darfur has unleashed a cycle of violence that seems unstoppable. While the families caught in the crossfire of this conflict wait for a political solution to their plight, the British Red Cross is keeping people alive."

In the remote Gereida camp in South Darfur, which has been described as the world's largest camp for internally displaced people, the British Red Cross is currently the only UK-based agency with expatriate staff on the ground.

Ros Armitage, Conflict Manager at the British Red Cross has just returned from Gereida Camp. She said: "Over 100,000 people are resident in the camp - 8 times the number when it first opened in 2004 - and the Red Cross is now meeting their basic survival needs. This includes everything from food and water to providing household items like tarpaulins to construct shelter, blankets, soap and cooking pots. We urgently need more money to continue this life saving work."

As part of it's response to the humanitarian crisis the British Red Cross, led by the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is running special feeding programmes in the Gereida camp to treat children with malnutrition.

Mairi Maguire, a British Red Cross nurse in the camp said, "At the moment we're seeing about 720 children a week and there are about 20 new admissions a day. We're also seeing children of all ages from 6 months to ten years of age although the ones that are most at risk and the ones we are most concerned about are children under five."

This appeal from the British Red Cross comes in response to the massive scaling up recently announced by the ICRC, one of the few organisations which is reaching and assisting people in need from every affected community, although deteriorating security conditions and banditry have severely hampered access to rural areas.

Close to 2 million people in Darfur have fled their homes and are now displaced throughout the region. Thousands, fleeing for their lives, have also crossed the border and are now seeking refuge in neighbouring Chad.

Money from the appeal will go towards supporting the life saving work the ICRC is providing to those displaced within Darfur. The money will also help fund the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement's work with nearly 50,000 Sudanese refugees in camps in Chad.

To donate to the British Red Cross Darfur Appeal please call 0845 054 7206 or visit www.redcross.org.uk/darfurappeal

For interviews with British Red Cross spokespeople just returned from the region, or for pictures and case studies from inside Gereida Camp, please call the press office on 0207 877 7039/7044

Notes to editors

What your money could buy:

- £4 will feed 1 critically malnourished child for 1 week

- £20 will feed 5 children for 1 week in the community based therapeutic centre

- £35 provides 1 week's supply of oral re-hydration salts for 100 children

ICRC and BRCS action in Gereida camp includes:

- Monthly food rations including sorghum, lentils, oil and sugar to 100,000 people in Gereida camp.

- Blankets, tarpaulins, kitchen sets and clothes to 100,000 people.

- Build 1,000 new latrines and run and maintain four water boreholes.

- Support an immunization programme to prevent meningitis, measles and polio.

- Provide mosquito nets and safe birth delivery kits.

- Provide 2,000 camp residents with trees to plant for firewood and to prevent environmental degradation.

The British Red Cross response

The British Red Cross has been working in Darfur since 2004 after the internal conflict erupted. At the time the organisation launched its Sudan Crisis Appeal, which raised more than £6 million. This has been used to support the vital work of the British Red Cross for the last three years in Sudan where it has played a central role in providing healthcare, nutritional support and safe drinking water to people in the town of Gereida.

In a joint project with the Australian Red Cross, the British Red Cross currently runs a a therapeutic and supplementary feeding centre for severely and moderately malnourished children in Gereida camp. However, as the crisis has escalated in Darfur, the British Red Cross has opened a new appeal to help it continue its vital work in the camp and to support the ICRC's wider work.

Currently there are 4 British Red Cross personnel working in Sudan including a nurse and a water engineer.

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

For further information

Becky Webb or Amelia Lyons
Contact number 0207 877 7039/7044 or out of hours 07659 145 095