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Food shortages and aid dependence set to continue in Darfur

5/25/2005 7:19 am

ICRC - Khartoum
Paul Conneally
+249 9 121 70576

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Press release No. 05/28
25 May 2005

Sudan: Food shortages and aid dependence set to continue in Darfur

Khartoum (ICRC) ? Food supplies in Darfur are running critically low and
millions of people there are now dependent on food aid. The prospects for
farmers being able to sow their fields this planting season are not
encouraging. During the last planting season, less than 30% of arable land
was cultivated. This proportion is set to decline further. If people cannot
plant crops, there will be chronic food shortages. A depleted harvest at
the end of the year will mean that increasing numbers of Darfuris remain
completely reliant on humanitarian aid for their survival, trapped in a
cycle of dependency for at least another 18 months.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is responding to the
crisis by stepping up its food aid for the remainder of the year. Food will
now be provided for up to 320,000 people per month, representing an
increase, from May to November, of between 20,000 and 30,000 metric tonnes.
Furthermore, in its efforts to boost cultivation this coming planting
season, the ICRC is currently distributing staple seed and farming tools to
20,000 households and will soon begin distribution of cash-crop seed and
tools to another 30,000 households.

The organization's food-aid programme continues to focus on residents
living in remote and rural areas, many of whom have been unable to move
from their villages and have therefore remained beyond the reach of most
aid. By providing food for these residents, the ICRC aims to prevent a
further exodus to urban centres, which would aggravate the crisis. The
ICRC's approach complements that of other humanitarian agencies, which are
continuing their efforts to meet the basic needs of displaced people in
Darfur's camps.

Like agriculture, trade in goods and cattle has dramatically declined in
Darfur. Migration routes continue to be blocked owing to the hostilities.
Accessibility to grazing areas must be restored to prevent further loss of
livestock. The ICRC is therefore working to upgrade important watering
holes for livestock herders and nomads and is training some 250 community
animal-health workers.

Widespread violations of international humanitarian law have led to the
general state of insecurity in Darfur and resulting restrictions on the
movement of people and animals, and to the displacement of entire
communities into overcrowded camps. To reverse this situation, violence
against civilians must stop and security and freedom of movement must
resume throughout the region. Recent efforts to help displaced people
return to their villages and to promote tribal reconciliation have been
encouraging. Nevertheless, if no further progress is achieved before the
coming rainy season in terms of helping people to move about safely, the
next harvest risks being lost.

Everything possible must be done to restore people's livelihoods and to
revive the already fragile local economy. It is ultimately the parties to
the conflict in Darfur, with their obligations under international
humanitarian law, who bear full responsibility for protecting the civilian
population from the continuing hardships resulting from the conflict. The
ICRC urges all parties to the conflict to take the measures needed to
preserve life and dignity and to allow for the resumption of trade,
agriculture and the movement of livestock.

Contacts at the ICRC Sudan:
Sudanese Media ? English Speaking: Lorena Brander, Media Relations
Delegate, Mobile: 0912 137764
Arabic Speaking Media -: Adil Sherif, Assistant to Head of Delegation,
Mobile: 0912 161493
International Media: Paul Conneally, Communication Coordinator, Mobile:
+249 912 170576
Marco Yuri Jiménez Rodrيguez, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 2271
or visit our website: www.icrc.org

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