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UN Refugee Agency Says It Needs $40 Million for Darfur Operations in 2008

The UN refugee agency is doubling its appeal for its operations in Darfur. This year, the UNHCR is asking for over $40 million, compared to just under $20 million dollars last year.

Helene Caux is a spokesperson for the UNHCR. From Geneva, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why the UN agency needs more money.

“The reason is that we’re basically expanding our presence in Darfur…. Since 2004, we had been present mainly in West Darfur (State) in the capital town of El Geneina and in different field offices in West Darfur. We opened a new office in North Darfur (State) in El Fasher and we have been reinforcing also in 2007 and since the beginning of the year our presence in our office in Nyala in South Darfur. UNHCR has also been given new tasks in terms of camp management and coordination of different agencies in Darfur. So, all of these of course require more money, more staff. And of course we’re also trying to increase different community-based projects for people who are displaced or people who are returning to villages in Darfur,” she says.

Caux explains how many people could be helped by the increased operations. “For the moment, we’ve been helping about 700,000 people in West Darfur…. In the North, South and West Darfurs, you have 2.5 million displaced persons. So of course we’re not going to be able to help all of these people because, first, it’s impossible to reach everyone because of security reasons. We do not have access to all places where displaced persons are located. And second, we would need more than $40 million to help all of these people. However, with the extension of our presence in the north and south, we’re hoping to be able to help more people, but also to monitor the security aspect of what’s happening in those areas,” she says.

The funds would also be used to help the more than 47,000 refugees from Chad and CAR (Central African Republic) who are in Darfur. Caux says, “We already have two refugee camps in Darfur itself with mainly Chadian refugees. In total you have about 45,000 Chadian refugees who have crossed over from Chad in 2006 and 2007 because of insecurity and fighting and tensions in eastern Chad mainly. And you also have 2500 from the Central African Republic who have been staying mainly in the region called Um Dukhun, which is just at the junction between Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic. We’ve started already to move part of this group of Central African Republic refugees last week to a refugee camp called Mukjar, 125 kilometers north of the border.”

The UNHCR appeal says its main goal is to “assist the Sudanese government in fulfilling its responsibility to deliver an effective and coordinated humanitarian response to the needs of conflict affected populations throughout Darfur.”