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Providing Clean Drinking Water Amid Insecurity In Darfur

The humanitarian agency OXFAM says insecurity, withered crops and a lack of clean drinking water are major problems in Darfur. OXFAM is working to improve water and sanitation services for about 350-thousand people in both Darfur and eastern Chad, where many Sudanese have fled.

Adrian McIntyre is a spokesman for OXFAM. From Khartoum, he spoke to English to Africa Reporter Joe De Capua about conditions in Darfur since the recent end of the rainy season.

He says, “The rainy season for a while was preventing aid agencies from accessing some areas of Darfur because there were swollen rivers and so on, very difficult to cross - and it was also increasing the public health risk in camps that were very overcrowded, where people were living in unsanitary conditions.”

Those situations have improved since the end of the rainy season. However, the rainy season was not adequate to nourish the millet crops that some farmers had managed to plant. Mr. McIntyre says during a helicopter flight, he says he saw “miles and miles” of withered crops in North Darfur.

The OXFAM spokesman says, “The violence in Darfur is still preventing people from traveling out to their fields, the ones that were able to plant at all. We’ve just had reports from a team visiting some villages in West Darfur that found that tens of thousands of displaced people are effectively being held hostage in villages by the fact that they’re surrounded by armed militias and other groups. And the pervasive insecurity in those areas is preventing even the residents, not just the displaced people, from traveling outside the perimeter of the camps. So, the insecurity is very real and the impact that that has had on the crop planting season was significant.”