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Death toll in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region up to 70,000 - UN health agency

Death toll in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region up to 70,000 - UN health agency

Sudanese refugee camps
Up to 70,000 people made homeless by conflict in Darfur, Sudan, have died as a direct result of their squalid and precarious living conditions since March, according to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

"Further work will be needed to estimate the proportions of these deaths that are due to different causes, but most are due to diarrhoeal diseases exacerbated by malnutrition," David Nabarro, Representative of WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook for Health Action in Crises, said Friday.

He estimated the average mortality rate for all internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region's three states during August to be 2.6 per 10,000 per day, with a worst and best case range of 1.6 to 3.2.

Mr. Nabarro said the broad range between worst and best case scenarios "reflects the varying conditions throughout the three Darfur states and the continuing uncertainty because of access problems."

Since the outbreak of fighting early last year between the Government of Sudan and two rebel groups, some 1.65 million people have been uprooted from their homes in Darfur, a vast region the size of France, with some 200,000 of them living in refugee camps in neighbouring Chad.

In other news, the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) said a humanitarian team has met with representatives of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), finalizing an agreement on ground rules for aid operations in areas controlled by the rebel movement and in contested parts of Darfur.

The Mission also reported rising tension over the weekend throughout Darfur, including in the two state capitals of North and West Darfur, while there were also reports that aid workers were harassed and relief vehicles hijacked.

UNAMIS said the World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, has completed food distribution in Zam Zam camp in North Darfur, and a polio vaccination campaign conducted in West Darfur has so far reached nearly 47,000 of the target 202,000 children.