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UN Quintuples Humanitarian Aid for Sudan - 2004-04-12

The United Nations has quintupled the amount of its humanitarian aid appeal for Sudan. As many as one million people have been forced to flee their homes in three war-ravaged regions of western Sudan.

Six months ago, U.N. agencies asked for $23 million for relief supplies to Sudan. With conditions in the western Darfur region of the country steadily deteriorating, that figure was revised upward Monday, to $115 million.

Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for the U.N.'s Humanitarian Affairs office, says visits to previously inaccessible parts of western Sudan have revealed a far worse picture than previously believed.

"As we have gained a little more access to Darfur, which is still incredibly imperfect, we have gotten more and more information about the numbers of people who have been affected by the situation in those three districts of Sudan," she said. "Because now we estimate there are probably close to one million people affected, and something around 700,000 internally displaced just within Darfur itself."

Ms. Bunker said donor countries have already pledged $32 million for Sudan, 9 million more than the original request. The main donors are the European Union, Japan, Australia and the United States.

U.N. humanitarian affairs office chief Jan Egeland told the Security Council last week that Arab militias are conducting a "scorched earth" campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. Mr. Egeland will head a 10-member team on a fact-finding tour to the region later this week.

U.N. officials have described Sudan as the world's greatest humanitarian and human rights tragedy. Aid groups say dangerous conditions in western Sudan are making deliveries of food and other humanitarian goods impossible. Only about one-third of those in need are said to be receiving help.