Sudan: food shortages and aid dependence set to continue in Darfur
25-05-2005 News Release 05/28
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 a total of approximately 30,000 metric tonnes to be distributed between May and November – an overall increase of some 10,000 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 dramatical ly 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.
For further information, please contact:
Paul Conneally, ICRC Khartoum, tel. ++249 9 121 705 76 or ++249 1 83 476464/ 65/ 66
Marco Yuri Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 2271 or + 41 79 217 32 17