World Vision Aid Reaching Thousands of African Refugees

World Vision recently distributed food rations to more than 17,500 in Otash camp in south Darfur and to more than 7,000 people in two Sudanese refugee camps in northeast Chad as part of its supplement
( [email protected] ) Sep 08, 2004 07:20 PM EDT

While the United States presented a draft UN resolution that steps up the pressure on Sudan over the crisis in Darfur, food aid had been reaching the internally displaced people (IDPs) in refugee camps in south Darfur and northeast Chad through an international Christian Humanitarian Agency.

According to reports, World Vision distributed food rations to more than 17,500 people in Otash last week – the first food to reach the camp in three months. The distribution came after the World Vision commodities team extended operations beyond the Kalma IDP camp (est. pop 83,000) into Otash. The food distributions in Kalma began on August 26, and have continued at a rapid pace, covering the first four sectors of the sprawling camp, WV reports.

As well as the food rations, World Vision also distributed plastic sheeting, blankets, sleeping mats, water cans and soap to the IDPs. These items were donated by UN-OCHA.

So far, more than 40,000 IDPs from the two camps have received over 500 metric tons of food, provided by the World Food Program (WFP) and distributed by World Vision.

“We're moving at a commendable pace, considering that we weren't expecting to be able to distribute food in August,” said WV Sudan/Darfur Commodities Manager Shewangezaw Lulie. “Then we were asked by WFP to jump in and move fast. It's a balance between accountability and speed. We have done well.”

World Vision reports that the latest distribution in Otash was well received by the IDPs, who are living in appalling conditions, largely unprotected from the blazing sun and torrential rains. Otash sprang up outside Nyala less than four months ago, as a result of Darfur's escalating conflict. It is now severely overcrowded, and in increasingly dire need of aid.

World Vision set up a primary health care clinic and supplementary feeding center on the edge of the camp within the past month. Both facilities are operating at peak capacity to help meet most urgent medical and nutrition needs of IDPs in Otash.

Meanwhile, in northeast Chad, World Vision has distributed food to more than 7,000 people in two Sudanese refugee camps as part of its supplementary feeding program to help prevent malnutrition in vulnerable mothers and young children.

Last week, World Vision distributed food rations consisting of corn soy blend (CSB), oil and sugar to children under five, pregnant and lactating women in the Kounougou and Amnabak refugee camps.

The distribution is part of a six-month emergency blanket supplementary feeding program, agreed upon by World Vision, UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF last month.

The program is targeting those most vulnerable to malnutrition - children under five, pregnant and lactating women. In all, 50,313 people in 11 refugee camps along the eastern border of Chad are being targeted.

The first distributions began in Bahai, Iridimi and Touloum camps, with Kounougou and Amnabak following.

"The distribution will be every 15 days, and organized in conjunction with other agencies who are distributing a general ration of food and conducting ongoing supplementary and therapeutic feeding programs," said Nicholas Wasunna, World Vision UK Emergency Officer.

In the most recent distribution, the 7,116 beneficiaries received a mixed ration of 4.43kg of dried micronutrient-fortified CSB, along with oil and sugar.

A MUAC screening of 1,300 children conducted by an NGO in March found a global acute malnutrition rate of 12.6% in the camps. This was later complemented by the results of a nutrition survey carried out by the UNHCR, indicating a serious crisis with up to 36% of children under five in Bahai suffering malnutrition.

World Vision initiated the project to ensure that vulnerable households were able to obtain the required 2,100Kcal per person per day.

The distribution is to continue this week in all of the camps. Three teams have been set up, and will be based in Guereda, Adre, Bahai and Goz Beida to cover the different camps. The emergency blanket supplementary feeding project will end in January 2005.