UN refugee agency appeals for $40 million for those displaced in Darfur

UN refugee agency appeals for $40 million for those displaced in Darfur

Sudanese refugees arrive in Chad after escaping attacks in Darfur
The United Nations refugee agency today issued an appeal for $40.3 million to provide protection and assistance to refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in Sudan's conflict-wracked Darfur region in 2008.

The funds will be used to help some 2.5 million displaced Darfurians and returnees as well as 47,500 refugees from Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) who have fled inter-ethnic clashes and other conflicts in their own countries, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“The challenges in Darfur have never been greater, with a pervasive conflict spreading across the region displacing more civilians and creating a very insecure environment for humanitarian workers,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said today in Geneva, quoting its Africa Bureau Director.

“Preventing sexual and gender-based violence also remains a key challenge,” he added, explaining that operations will focus on protection activities.

Such efforts include monitoring the well-being of refugees, IDPs and returnees, strengthening camp management and providing community-based rehabilitation programmes in rural areas along with other partners and UN agencies.

“UNHCR's main goal remains to assist the Sudanese Government in fulfilling its responsibility to deliver an effective and coordinated humanitarian response to the needs of conflict-affected populations throughout Darfur,” he said.

UNHCR's primary area of operation until now has been in West Darfur, bordering Chad, while this year it has begun to extend its operational presence to North and South Darfur.

The agency notes that the $40.3 million appeal marks a sizeable increase over 2007 budgetary requirements of $19.7 million, reflecting the expansion of UNHCR's presence and its increased role in camp management and coordination issues within the UN.

UNHCR said it currently has 31 international and 74 national staff based in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed in the past five years and at least 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes because of fighting between rebels, the Government and allied militias and the attacks by bandits and other armed groups.

Also today, the agency announced that it had started to relocate refugees from CAR in West Darfur, part of a group of 2,500 people who arrived at the end of 2006, fleeing generalized violence and insecurity in northern CAR.

At the same time, it will be assessing the protection and assistance needs of some 600 refugee families (3,000 people) who fled instability in eastern Chad in February.