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Food disaster looms in Darfur, aid team warns

A United Nations-Sudanese assessment team says that without action, food rations will run out in May for more than a million people.

March 25, 2009|Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — More than a million people in Darfur will not get their food rations starting in May if Sudan and the United Nations can't fill gaps left by the expulsion of more than a dozen foreign aid groups, a joint U.N.-Sudanese assessment team said Tuesday.

Even if other relief organizations in the region help, those are "Band-Aid solutions, not long-term solutions," said John Holmes, the U.N.'s top humanitarian official.

Sudan expelled 13 foreign aid organizations and closed three local ones this month after the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's western region of Darfur.

The government refuses to have any dealings with the court and has accused the aid groups of collaborating on the case.

The groups deny it, and they warn of a greater humanitarian crisis in Darfur without their presence.

The U.N.-Sudanese assessment team toured Darfur on March 11-19, after the groups were expelled.

About 1.1 million people now dependent on food aid will not receive rations starting in May if the aid gaps aren't filled, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Ameerah Haq, said on behalf of the team.

She warned that money would run out within four weeks for spare parts and fuel needed to provide drinking water for 850,000 people.

And more than 600,000 people are in danger of not getting materials needed to build shelters before the rainy season, Haq said.

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