Darfur operations set to increase

Darfur operations set to increase

A quarter million people are assisted everyday to survive and find a better life in Darfur thanks to the support Caritas members receive around the world.

That support is being expanded to include activities in camps were other international aid agencies have been asked to leave.

Caritas Internationalis works in Darfur with ACT International, an alliance of Protestant and Orthodox churches and related agencies. As one of the largest operations, the ACT-Caritas programmes are lead by Norwegian Church Aid, in cooperation with two national organizations.

And while 16 national and international aid organizations have been recently expelled or closed by Sudanese authorities, Caritas emergency operations continue.

Mike Noyes, from Caritas England and Wales (CAFOD) said, “We work from day-to-day and keep the programs on track. NCA has a close and active contact with the authorities to identify the needs and provide the services required. We assist 250,000 people every day.”

Mr Noyes sees no immediate change in the situation for the Darfuri population, but hopes one day they can return home. “That will be the final improvement.”

Bjørg Mide, head of the NCA section for East Africa, said that the main activities continue to be water and sanitation, and health and nutrition. “After the departure of expelled organizations we are taking on short term gap-filling activities in three camps for internally displaced people (IDPs)”, she said.

“We are scaling up the emergency response through the Emergency unit , and preparing for distributing non-food items including blankets, kitchen tools and water buckets for those who have lost everything is important.

“We have been in Darfur since 2004, the beginning of this current crisis. But after 16 NGOs had to close their offices, we had to rethink our priorities and concentrate in a short term perspective on life-saving interventions.”

One of the local partners of NCA, the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO), was among the NGOs that was recently closed by the Sudanese authorities.

When asked how this affects the overall activities, Ms Mide responded, “We sincerely regret the close down of Sudo, they were providing essential, life saving support to the IDPs. SUDO was running five clinics, which is important continue, and we will take the responsibility for four of them in close cooperation with the local authorities.”

Catholic Relief Services, one of our Caritas members from the USA, also remains operational and firmly committed to the people of Sudan, with more than 300 CRS staff serving more than 420,000 people across the country. CRS is in discussions with the United Nations, the government and local authorities, and relevant donors to determine how best to address the existing gaps in critical humanitarian aid in Sudan

Having operated in the country since 1972, CRS is prepared to quickly mobilize the resources and staff required to expand services as deemed appropriate. Additional financial resources, however, will be critical. CRS staffers are monitoring the situation while continuing to carry out their missions that provide essential lifesaving aid to thousands of people in need in Sudan.

Read more about one CRS project that is providing classrooms for children in Darfur and how CRS is conserving limited natural resources while helping schools build more permanent classrooms in Darfur to let children learn.