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Women and childrend at NCA clinic in the Hasa Hissa IDPs camp Credits: Mohamed Nureldin/Act Caritas

Women and childrend at NCA clinic in the Hasa Hissa IDPs camp
Credits: Mohamed Nureldin/Act Caritas

2011 was a historic year for Sudan. It saw the secession of the southern part of the country from the North after one of Africa’s longest running civil wars.

But in Sudan’s Darfur region conflict continued. More than 300,000 people have been killed since 2004 in Darfur and over 2.7 million people forced from their homes.

Caritas Internationalis members provide food, clean water, health care and other humanitarian services regardless of social, religious or ethnic differences to over a million people in West and South Darfur through two programmes of work.

A Catholic Relief Services (CRS is a US Caritas member) programme meets the immediate and long-term development needs of more than 500,000 people.

Caritas also works with the Act Alliance of Protestant and Orthodox aid agencies in a unique ecumenical cooperation, through the operations of Norwegian Church Aid, Sudanaid (a Caritas member) and the Sudan Council of Churches.

A joint Act-Caritas appeal for 2012 will fund relief efforts for a further 500,000 plus people. Since 2004, Caritas and Act have spent US$ 100 million.

Caritas Internationalis Humanitarian Director Alistair Dutton said, “Darfur remains one of the Caritas confederation’s key relief operations in the world. The programme supports large numbers of people with water and sanitation in camps as well as running health and nutrition services for them. There are few viable alternatives at the moment, so the programme will need to continue while exploring local solutions.”

Act Caritas appeal 2012

As in 2011, the main focus of the programme will be providing clean water, health care and nutrition, peacebuilding and emergency relief items. Caritas works in West and South Darfur mostly in camps for people forced from their homes, but with15 percent of its aid going to host and rural communities.

Conflict, high food prices and an economic downturn increased malnutrition in Darfur in 2011, with 70 percent of households in South Darfur being unable to buy the minimum food required.

Areas Caritas works showed a more promising picture, with malnutrition down by a fifth due to improved education on healthy eating and disease prevention.

It was just one of the positive stories to emerge over the last 12 months.

“By investing in solar energy, we are cutting costs,” said Alistair Dutton, who helped set up the overall operations in 2004. “By teaching hygiene and sanitation to people, we are reducing the number people who fall sick and the burden on our clinics. By working with nomads on cattle vaccinations and demarcation of grazing routes, we are building peace at a community level. By working with Sudan’s Ministry of Health, we look to ensure our health clinics have a sustainable future.”

Caritas says the prospects for 2012 are mixed in Darfur. There have been large numbers of people returning to their homes, primarily in West Darfur. But ongoing fighting in other parts of Sudan as well as Darfur suggests further turbulence ahead.

The economic outlook for Sudan is bleak. There are also some concerns that the country will face high food prices during May-September 2012 due to poor harvests caused by lack of rain in some parts of Sudan and disruptions to agriculture caused by the ongoing conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Low rainfall in North Darfur in 2011 also risks displacing nomads to South Darfur in search of grazing.