Oxfam calls for urgent action on Darfur: It is too little, but not too late

International agency Oxfam is doubling the size of their programme in western Sudan and Chad. Oxfam are currently providing emergency assistance to 171,000 displaced people in Sudan and 45,000 in Chad. The enlarged relief programme will enable Oxfam to help more than twice that number.

"As the world wakes up to the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Darfur and Chad, the vast scale of need is becoming apparent," said Oxfam New Zealand's Executive Director, Barry Coates.

With seasonal rains beginning, Oxfam says water, sanitation, food and shelter are urgently needed for up to one million people inside Darfur who have been forced from their villages by violent armed attacks and another 150,000 – 200,000 who have crossed the border into Chad.

Healthcare is a particular problem in the camps: "Nearly every third tent has a sick child and many are malnourished. The number of seriously dehydrated children needing medical treatment is on the rise," said Oxfam's Jane Beesley, recently returned from Chad. "Diarrhoea and malnutrition are increasing, and there is a real fear of cholera among health workers. If just one person comes with cholera it will be a disaster and many people will die.

"In one camp, over 2,000 people are without toilets; instead people are using areas close to the camp. When the rains come, human waste will wash into the camps increasing the risk of disease and epidemics," said Beesley.

"The international community's immediate response to Iraq last year shows that donors can find money quickly when there is a real will to deliver," said Coates.

The United Nations has appealed for almost NZ$560 million to cover urgent needs this year for all its agencies working on the crisis. Yet, according to latest UN figures, this appeal has so far received just one third of the money needed, with contributions totalling only around NZ$182 million.

"The lack of funding for Darfur and Chad follows a trend in which donors are ignoring millions in other forgotten emergencies including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. Six months into the UN's global appeal for 2004, there is a two billion dollar shortfall."
"Humanitarian aid, while not the only solution to this crisis, is the key to preventing tens of thousands of deaths in the coming months. Donors must deliver immediately if lives are to be saved."

Oxfam New Zealand launched an appeal for Darfur on 25th May on 0800 600 700. Public donations now total more than NZ$110,000. This is a remarkable response to an emergency that has received little media attention. However, for lives to be saved more aid is needed, and it is needed now.


  • In the first three months of the 2003 Iraq appeal, donors mobilized nearly $2 billion.
  • Six months after the United Nations announced its $2.95 billion Consolidated Appeal for the world's emergencies in 2004, only $696.8 million had been received by 16 June 2004, according to OCHA. At just 23.6 % of the amount requested, this level of funding is much lower than at the same time in previous two years, when 33% had been received.
  • Oxfam is rapidly scaling up its work in Darfur and Chad and has launched an appeal to fund its programme, estimated to cost NZ$30 million. It is providing clean drinking water, toilets and bathing facilities as well as hygiene kits in North and South Darfur and refugee camps in neighbouring Chad. Oxfam is providing water and sanitation to a total of 200,000 people.
  • For Darfur and Chad, the UN has appealed for US$349,542,643 since March 2004. So far, the UN has received just 33% of its appeal, $114,085,877 (latest figures from Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the Sudan, 19 June 2004).
  • In terms of bilateral contributions to the 2004 appeal, France has given just $3.45 million, Spain $600,000, Germany $7.14 million, Japan $3.29m, Italy $2.4million, Saudi Arabia $204,000, and United Arab Emirates $82,000. By comparison, the US has given $89.5 million and the UK has given $52.1 million. The New Zealand government has contributed $1 million (NZ$2million) to the UN World Food Programme and UNHCR. The New Zealand government has also contributed NZ$1 million to MSF and NZ Red Cross.
Article type: 
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