Sudan

Aid agencies launch a joint appeal for Sudan

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The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an alliance of 12 leading British aid agencies today launched a joint national appeal for donations to help save lives and widespread starvation in southern Sudan.
The agencies have been working with communities affected by the escalating crisis in the region in which up to 700,000 people are at risk from malnutrition and disease as a result of a food crisis, caused by 15 years of civil war and two years of drought. With significant improvements in information about the areas in greatest need, the aid agencies are stepping up their existing humanitarian work in the region.

Money is urgently needed for more food, medical help, clean water, shelter and sanitation. Seeds and tools have been distributed so that people can sow their crops before the rains. Funds are also required for transport and logistical support to help with the rapid and effective distribution of relief.

The crisis, centred in Northern Bahr el Ghazal province, is unfolding across southern Sudan. In parts of Eastern Equatoria, Blue Nile, the Nuba Mountains, Southern Bahr el Ghazal and the Lakes region the situation is deteriorating.

While access has improved recently, the aid agencies are concerned that access to the affected areas is maintained if even greater hardship and suffering are to be averted. The geography of the region and the impending rains that will flood roads and airstrips make the distribution of aid difficult.

"Insecurity and uncertainty caused by the continuing civil war threaten to jeopardise and undermine our aid efforts. Humanitarian aid can make a difference, but we can't make the crisis go away. A long term solution will only come with peace in Sudan," says David Bryer, Director of Oxfam and member of the Disasters Emergency Committee.

"The people at risk not only need help now but will need support for many months to come. Wherever possible, agencies are helping people in their villages to stabilise the situation and prevent widespread migration," explains Anne Marie Huby, executive director of Medecins Sans Frontieres and also a member of the DEC.

The DEC agencies are working as party of co-ordinated international relief efforts in southern Sudan which include the United Nations' Operation Lifeline Sudan, church networks, Sudanese NGOs and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

For further information contact Patricia O'Rourke or Juliet Sober at the DEC Media Office on 0171 580 6550

Note to editors

1.The participating agencies in the DEC Sudan Crisis Appeal are: British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, MERLIN, Medecins Sans Frontieres, OXFAM, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

2. It is extremely difficult to estimate how many people are at risk in southern Sudan. It is a vast region where there are no accurate population figures and many of the people affected are in isolated areas. Best estimates are that 350,000 are in urgent need in Bahr el Ghazal and a further 350,000 across the other areas.

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