14 December 2006 Sudan, including the strife-torn region of Darfur, will require over $1.8 billion dollars to fund humanitarian, recovery and development projects next year, the United Nations said today while launching a joint appeal in Geneva, an amount representing roughly half the UN’s global funding requirements for aid operations in 2007.
“The investment we are calling for here today will be critical for Sudan’s transition from a conflict-afflicted nation dependent upon the provision of humanitarian assistance to a nation increasingly capable of providing for the needs of its population,” said the Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary-General for Sudan, Manuel Aranda da Silva.
Most of the funds from the UN Work Plan for Sudan, around $1.26 billion, will go to fund humanitarian activities for large numbers of the population still in need, mostly in conflict-wracked Darfur, while around $563 million is needed to fund recovery and development efforts, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a press release.
“Like any big investment, it’s a high risk and high return – but we cannot afford not to do it: 2007 could be a decisive year for Sudan if peace spreads to all regions,” Mr. da Silva said. The joint appeal was launched with representatives from Sudan’s Government of National Unity.
Nearly four million people have been affected by the bloody conflict in Darfur, with most of the two million displaced persons entirely dependent on direct food aid, OCHA said, adding that next year’s humanitarian operation in the region will require more than $650 million.
Compared to last year, the amount requested for recovery and development has more than doubled to $563 million, OCHA noted, adding this reflects commitments to projects aimed at rebuilding infrastructure, particularly in Southern Sudan.
In a related development, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Omar Abdi ended a week-long visit to Sudan earlier today by voicing deep concern at the impact of the Darfur conflict on children and women and the safety of humanitarian workers.
UNICEF also issued a statement highlighting gross violations of women’s and children’s rights throughout the troubled region, noting rising malnutrition rates and also describing an “environment of impunity in Darfur, which must be urgently addressed.”
“The international community, the Government of Sudan, and all those currently involved in the conflict in Darfur, have a collective responsibility to stop the needless misery faced by millions of women and children. It is imperative that a speedy political resolution to this crisis is found, before more lives are lost,” UNICEF stated.
While praising the efforts of around 13,000 humanitarian workers in the region, UNICEF also said that since May it had received reports of 23 incidences of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – essential implementing partners for the agency – being forced to withdraw staff from areas of Darfur because of growing insecurity.
Separately, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported that while the security situation in Darfur has been relatively quiet since yesterday, two NGO workers were injured in the West Darfur town of El Geneina when one of their agency’s vehicles was seized at gunpoint.
UNMIS also reported that Arab militias were seen moving towards El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, yesterday morning in more than 70 vehicles.
Also yesterday, the Mission’s Officer-in-Charge, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, met with Pekka Haavisto, the Special Representative of the European Union to Sudan, and agreed on the need to help re-energize the Darfur political process, and in particular make the ceasefire operational and effective.
More than 200,000 people have been killed across Darfur since 2003 and at least 2 million others displaced from their homes because of fighting between Government forces, allied militias and rebel groups seeking greater autonomy.