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UN: Mortality Rates Drop in Darfur, But Food Insecurity a Major Issue


The United Nations says overall mortality rates in Sudan's violence-plagued western Darfur region have dropped for a third consecutive year.

In a joint release Friday, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, UNICEF and the World Food Program noted that the food security situation in Darfur has improved slightly, because of a stronger international response to the crisis. Still, the U.N. agencies said 70 percent of Darfur residents face uncertain prospects for getting enough food.

The agencies said malnutrition rates in Darfur largely stabilized in 2006. Child malnutrition rates - for those under the age of five - climbed slightly to 13 percent. That is an increase of about one percent over last year, but still dramatically lower than the 2004 rate, when more than one-in-five young children were malnourished.

U.N. officials say relief organizations have been able to provide food, water and agricultural assistance, but they caution that the situation is still precarious for those in the greatest need. They also warn that the flow of aid is being threatened by escalating violence.