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WHO Reports 70,000 People Have Died In Darfur Camps


The World Health Organization says at least 70,000 people in Sudan's western Darfur Province have died from poor conditions in camps for internally displaced people since March.

The World Health Organization says at least 10,000 people a month are dying from disease, malnutrition-related causes and violence in Darfur's squalid camps for homeless people. The head of WHO's crisis operations, David Nabarro, warns many more people will die, unless countries provide more money.

"We still do not have a significant enough popular perception around the world of the enormity of the suffering experienced by people in Darfur and in Chad, where disease and suffering is being experienced on a quite extraordinary and inhuman scale," Dr. Nabarro said.

The United Nations describes Darfur as the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe. Nearly 1.5 million people have been forced to flee their villages. This, since fighting erupted 19 months ago between two black African rebel groups and the government-backed Arab militia, known as the Janjaweed. Another 200,000 people from Darfur have sought asylum in neighboring Chad.

Dr. Nabarro cites the major causes of death in Darfur camps as diarrhea, fever and respiratory disease.

In a bit of good news, he says health workers have been able to stabilize an outbreak of Hepatitis E. He says there are fewer cases of jaundice and dysentery, and cholera in Chad has not yet spread to the refugee camps.

But, Dr. Nabarro says United Nations and private aid agencies are limited in what they can do, because they are extremely cash poor.

"We asked for at least $300 million for the total U.N. operation, a tiny amount compared with the $30 billion that is being pledged for Iraq. And, thus far, we have only managed to raise about half that amount," he said. " And, that has meant the access to these areas in Darfur that need people, they need food, they need water and sanitation, the access has been really inadequate. "

Dr. Nabarro says the rain has made many roads impassable to relief trucks. He says helicopters could easily deliver the necessary goods, but they cost money the U.N. does not have. He says the price of not giving is death for people who otherwise could have been kept alive.

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