Oxfam today launched a NZ$13.5million appeal to sustain its life-saving work in Darfur and Chad. The international agency urgently needs the money to continue helping people in what has become the world's greatest humanitarian crisis.
Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's International Director, who recently returned from Darfur, said: "This is the greatest concentration of human suffering in the world. The international community has allowed the conflict to spread, blighting the lives of some 4 million people and forcing many to the very brink of survival.
"I was last in Darfur over 20 years ago and couldn't believe the change and the extent to which people's lives are being destroyed. In Darfur, villages are burnt-out shells and two-thirds of the population are dependent on aid. In Chad, the number of people forced to flee their homes has doubled in just four months. This is an outrage that affronts the world's moral values. We once more need the support of the public to show that the world cares and help Oxfam to continue to keep people alive."
This call for funding comes at a critical time for the people of Darfur and Chad – it is a plea to the hearts and minds of the international public to recognise that they can each make a contribution towards ending the world's greatest humanitarian crisis.
The New Zealand government and members of the public have been generous previously, and their donations have supported the relief effort. The problem is that, far from being resolved, the crisis has worsened. Oxfam is now providing aid to 530,000 people – 470,000 in Darfur and 60,000 in Chad – including clean water, safe sanitation, public health promotion and helping people earn a living. At NZ$27million a year, Oxfam's work in Darfur and Chad is currently its biggest emergency programme in the world.
In launching the appeal in New Zealand, Oxfam New Zealand Executive Director said, "Kiwis have demonstrated their generosity before, most notably in response to the Asian tsunami. This crisis in Darfur involves misery and suffering on an even larger scale. There are more than two million people who have been forced to flee their homes and are now huddled in refugee camps in one of the harshest climates in the world. They are entirely dependent on relief aid. A further two million people remain in their villages but are also dependent on humanitarian aid. The good news is that there is, at last, some movement in negotiating a ceasefire and restoring security. Now, more than ever, support from the public is desperately needed."