Last week, UK international aid charities launched a joint national appeal for public help as thousands of men, women and children have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the violence in Darfur, Sudan and eastern Chad. Since its launch on July 20, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Sudan Emergency Appeal has received the support of all the major UK TV and Radio stations. On the first night alone, the appeal raised £2.5 million ($4.6 million).
The appeal, which brings together 11 of the UK’s leading aid agencies, is raising funds to provide desperately needed food, water shelter materials, sanitation and medical care to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people forced to flee their homes in the Darfur region of Sudan.
DEC Chief Executive Brendan Gormley was moved by the early response to the appeal. “The appeal has got off to an exceptionally good start” he said. “The British public have obviously been touched by the plight of the refugees and have responded by donating generously. The average donation has been £44 ($81)– enough to feed a family for two months.”
However, he warned that much more money is needed. “The aid agencies are doing all that they can but they all need to scale up their work to reach as many people as quickly as possible. A million people are on the move in Darfur and Chad and conditions for them will only get worse as the rainy season continues and disease speads. I urge the public to keep the donations coming in so that lives can be saved.”
UK-based Christian Aid reported that thousands of refugees are arriving in camps everyday with nothing but what they stand up in. "The camps are full to bursting - there are 57,000 people in Kalma Camp, designed to accommodate just 26,000 people," Christian Aid reported. "Refugees are sleeping in the open, they are running out of food and drinking water is scarce."
Meanwhile floodwaters from recent rains are washing human and animal waste into water sources raising fears of outbreaks of disease such as cholera and diarrhoea. For people, particularly children, already suffering from malnutrition and dehydration these diseases can kill.
A recent report from a DEC spokesperson in Kalma camp in South Darfur confirms the urgent need for more funds. “Children are walking barefoot through sewage. The smell is terrible and there are flies everywhere. The buckets and jerrycans that people use to carry water are not clean……we’re on the brink of a major health crisis.”
Gormley, commented "This is the worst humanitarian crisis facing the world today."
"We know that the British public, when they know something can be done, are hugely generous and will respond massively to help the suffering Sudanese in this desperate situation."
The DEC charities benefiting from the Sudan Emergency are: British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern, Help the Aged, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.