Annan welcomes report that humanitarian workers can get quick visas for Sudan

21 May 2004

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed an announcement by the Sudanese Government that workers wanting to offer humanitarian aid to people in the strife-torn Darfur region of western Sudan can get entry visas quickly and no longer need permits to travel to the area.

"The Secretary-General trusts that these measures will be implemented immediately, so that more than one million people affected by the crisis in Darfur can receive the aid they so urgently need," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

Mr. Annan also called on donors to respond promptly and generously to the appeals for Darfur and for Sudanese refugees in neighbouring Chad.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal requested about $645 million to meet the humanitarian needs of vulnerable Sudanese populations in 2004. With the year nearly half over, only some $119 million, or less than 20 per cent of the funds needed, have been donated, it said.

Meanwhile, some 75,000 refugees who fled attacks by Arab militia in Darfur and into neighbouring Chad have moved into United Nations camps, including a seventh settlement opened this week, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

In response to an uprising by young men seeking more government assistance for the Darfur region, the Government has failed to rein in militia forces attacking the black African civilian population. UN and non-governmental relief agencies have had to move refugee camps in Chad further inland because Sudanese militia members assault and plunder refugees near the border.

The new camp at Breidjing, near Farchana camp, has received the first 187 refugees brought by truck from the border, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski told journalists in Geneva.

Farchana camp houses 13,360 Sudanese refugees, while Touloum camp has 17,787; Iridimi, 14,819; Kounoungo, 8,271; Mille, 2,073 and Goz Amer, 18,143. The total number relocated today was 74,640 refugees, he said.

The 27,000 refugees in the northern part of the affected border zone in Chad are located around Bahai and Kariari, Mr. Janowski said. Those in Bahai will be moved to Kariari over the next eight weeks and UNHCR just signed an agreement with the British non-governmental organization (NGO) Oxfam to provide water and sanitation in Kariari.