Humanitarian crisis in sudan imminent
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U.S. Says 1 Million May Die in Sudan's Darfur Region (Update1)
June 3 (Bloomberg) -- As many as 1 million people may die in the western Sudanese region of Darfur if sufficient international aid can't be sent there, U.S. Agency for International Development chief Andrew Natsios warned today.
``We estimate right now if we get relief in, we'll lose a third of a million people, and if we don't, the death rates be dramatically higher, approaching a million people,'' Natsios said after a United Nations aid meeting in Geneva, according to a U.S. government transcript.
The UN has called Darfur the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Thousands of civilians have been killed and thousands more driven from their homes, many into neighboring Chad, which doesn't have the resources to support them. Usaid last month airlifted supplies of plastic sheeting for shelters, as well as blankets, for tens of thousands of people.
The U.S. has urged the Sudanese government to clamp down on what it has described as a government-supported militia targeting black Sudanese in the area, and said the Sudanese government would be held responsible.
A peace agreement signed late last month between the Sudanese government and rebels fighting from the south of the oil- producing African country didn't address the Darfur emergency. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the U.S. wouldn't ease diplomatic and economic penalties on Sudan before the Darfur conflict is settled.
Sudan Sees Improvement
``According to information which we have, and coming from different independent sources, generally the situation is far better now,'' Khidir Haroun Ahmed, Sudan's ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview today. The envoy said ``some skirmishes here and there'' are still taking place.
Ahmed criticized the U.S. position on keeping sanctions in effect, saying the peace agreement was a ``very big success'' and that the U.S. shouldn't have ``shifting conditions.''
Eric Reeves, who has written more than 600 articles on Sudan and testified before the U.S. Congress, said the dead are victims of a genocidal campaign by the Sudanese government that he said armed the so-called Arab Jenjaweed militia to destroy entire populations of Africans.
``When you destroy water sources, cattle, seed, food stocks, and only in African villages, you know you're looking at genocide,'' Reeves said. ``When you concentrate people by the hundreds of thousands in the rainy season, which has now begun, you will see a huge uptick in epidemics'' such as malaria, cholera and measles, he said.
The death rate, now about 2,000 a week, may reach 3,000 a day by December, he said. Reeves, an English professor at Smith College in western Massachusetts, said it will be impossible to keep the death toll below 200,000 people, and 300,000 dead is very realistic unless conditions change immediately.
Natsios said that even if the region were to calm significantly, a famine would still be unavoidable because no crops have been planted due to people fleeing their lands.
``The humanitarian situation is appalling on both sides of the border,'' Ruud Lubbers, head of the UN refugee agency, told the Security Council two weeks ago.
Both the U.S. and UN have pressed the Sudanese government to allow unrestricted humanitarian access to the area, which has yet to occur. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher yesterday reiterated the U.S. demand that ``Sudan must end the violence in Darfur, rein in the Arab militias, in accordance with their April 8th cease-fire commitments, and allow the cease-fire monitors full freedom of movement.''
Ahmed said some problems over issuance of visas have been resolved and that we ``have no problem with visas and work permits'' for relief workers.