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UN Issues Flash Appeal for Aid for Sudan's Darfur Region - 2004-05-26

U.N. officials have nearly doubled their estimate of the number of people facing starvation in Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region, even as a peace accord brought hope of an end to conflict in another part of the country.

The United Nation's estimate of people in Darfur in desperate need of food and other aid has been raised from 1.2 million to two million. The increase is based on recent visits to areas of western Sudan which had previously been inaccessible to aid workers.

Another 130,000 Darfurians are living in U.N.-monitored camps in neighboring Chad.

U.N. emergency aid coordinator Jan Egeland told the Security Council Wednesday, a flash appeal is being prepared to raise more aid donations for Darfur.

"Darfur has not been sufficiently realized as the biggest humanitarian drama of our time and age, and that is why we have only $50 million and not the $170 million we appealed for, let alone the additional $80 million more we will have to appeal in Geneva," he said.

Mr. Egeland says the number of international aid workers in Sudan is doubling every week as the world wakes up to the impending tragedy. He said he is more optimistic than he was a month ago when he first brought the Darfur crisis to the Security Council's attention.

The Council issued a statement Tuesday calling on the Khartoum government to respect its commitment to disarm Arab militias that are driving black Africans out of Darfur.

Aid groups and some governments, including the United States, are pushing the Security Council to go beyond the statement of concern. Human rights monitors - as well as Mr. Egeland - have accused the Arab militias of ethnic cleansing.

The Council, however, has declined to blame the Khartoum government for the crisis or issue demands. Sudan, backed by Arab and African governments and Russia, has lobbied to keep the issue off the Council's formal agenda.