Tearfund Appeals for Emergency Funds as Darfur Crisis Worsens

As the conflict and on-going humanitarian crisis worsens in Darfur and Chad, Tearfund is appealing for emergency funds.

Two million people are estimated to be displaced across Darfur due to the conflict, higher than the number displaced at the time of the previous 2004 appeal.

Furthermore, 140,000 people are internally displaced in Chad as some 240,000 refugees have fled from Darfur into Chad since the crisis began in 2003.

Tearfund is running water and sanitation programmes, with supplementary feeding, nutrition and health education projects in the displacement camps in Darfur, as well as reaching communities across different Sudanese and Chadian ethnic groups.

Nigel Timmins, Tearfund Operations Manager for Sudan has just returned from the region. He said, "Since this humanitarian crisis began, four years ago, we have been responding and adjusting our response when access to locations is restricted by the fighting. With the conflict in Darfur spreading into Chad we are seeing suffering and fear on a chilling scale.

"Hundreds of thousands of people are, at best in camps that are spilling over and worse still, caught between marauding rebel incursions across the border. We have been getting relief to as many people as we are able to reach, but the situation is not improving and we have to be ready to support civilians affected for as long as they need."

It is estimated that over 200,000 people have died since the conflict in Darfur began in early 2003, many as a direct result of the violence. The conflict was violently escalated by an attack on government targets by a rebel group claiming the region was being neglected by Khartoum.

The Sudanese Government has been accused of arming the Janjaweed militias which have taken part in alleged savage attacks, where they have terrorised and burnt villages throughout Darfur - killing entire communities.

Other rebel groups have triggered further escalations of violence. Communities are often caught in the cross border raids and factional fighting. Those that survive the attacks tell of their women being brutally raped and beaten and their farms pillaged.

Thorya and Sara fled their home in when it was attacked in November last year with their children.

"They burnt our houses, killed children, they stole our sheep, goats and donkeys," says Thorya. "We travelled for a day on foot to El Neem camp with nothing."

The women don't feel safe in the camp: "If you walk half a kilometre out of the camp to collect wood you will be shot," adds Thorya.

She says the women have tried to dig wooden stumps and roots out of the ground to use as firewood rather than venturing out of the camp. Others have returned to check on what they had left behind and were attacked again.

Ibrahim is an old man who fled his home with the rest of his family when it was attacked. They arrived in the camp with only the clothes they were wearing. Looking around the camp at El Neem he says "without the NGOs all these people would suffer or die".

Nigel Timmins says that it is because of people like Ibrahim and Sorya - and the tens of thousands that are at risk, that Tearfund has been at the forefront of aid relief in Darfur since the crisis began.

"We are running our largest relief operation with our largest field team," says Timmins. "We have people, many career specialists in water and sanitation, nutrition and hygiene, dedicated to saving lives and sustaining life. People are generous in their support for meeting the need on this scale and with the money given we are committed to doing exactly that."