BRUSSELS, Belgium, Nov 28, 2004 (AP) — The European Union pledged A?51 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan on Sunday to help avert a “major food crisis” brewing in the troubled Darfur region due to continuing hostilities.
A displaced Sudanese woman begs for food..
Newly appointed EU Commissioner Louis Michel announced the aid in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum after touring Darfur, in the west of the country.
In a statement released in Brussels, he also called for “all armed groups” to stop attacking civilians and “allow aid workers to do their difficult and vital job as safely as possible.”
“It is high time that the many promises of peace made so far are respected, once and for all,” he said.
Fighting between the Sudanese government and rebels erupted last week despite a Nov. 8 cease-fire, causing aid groups to suspend operations. The World Food Program temporarily suspended its operations in most of the troubled state Thursday, cutting off some 300,000 displaced people.
The governor of North Darfur state, Osman Youssef Kebir, invited representatives of the rebel groups, the African Union, and the European Union to a conference Sunday in El Fasher, the state capital, to formally lift travel restrictions on aid workers.
But Barry Came, a World Food Program officer in Khartoum, said late Saturday that the move, while welcome, did not go far enough.
About A?10 million (US$13 million) of the fresh EU aid will fund “massive food distribution” by the World Food Program to refugees in remote areas of Darfur.
“As they have not been able to plant due to displacement and insecurity, a major food crisis is on the horizon,” Michel’s statement said.
Another A?21 million (US$28 million) will go for food security, nutrition for the severely malnourished, protection and care for vulnerable groups, shelter and essential items such as cooking pots and clothes, clean water and basic sanitation services.
“Considerable funds” will also be spent in southern Sudan, where international negotiators are trying to end a 21-year civil war, the EU said.
The new money brings the total EU aid for victims of the Darfur crisis this year to about A?215 million (US$286 million).