BURBANK, California (July 22, 2004) – Heavy rainfall in the Darfur region has
begun, further worsening the humanitarian crisis that the United Nations has
called the ‘world’s greatest.’ Over one million people are currently displaced in
Darfur, and another 130,000 people have sought shelter in camps in
neighboring Chad. Aid agencies in the region have estimated that as many as
300,000 may die by December due to starvation and disease.
The humanitarian need in Darfur is enormous. Many of the displaced people
have no shelter at all, while others are living under trees or simple straw
mats. Child malnutrition is on the rise as food is scarce, and even the locals
have exhausted food stocks. The current rainy season is adding to the misery
of the displaced people. There are no sanitation facilities in the camps,
increasing the potential for diseases such as dysentery and cholera.
Islamic Relief Worldwide has set up an emergency field office in the town of
Al-Junaynah (also spelled ‘El Geneina’) in West Darfur, where it is managing
the Al-Riyadh Internally Displaced People camp. In that particular camp,
around seventy percent of the households are headed by women. The
population of camp is steadily increasing, and is expected to hold around
40,000 people. Islamic Relief Worldwide is currently providing food, shelter,
education, and water and sanitation to the displaced population.
In addition to the aforementioned projects, Islamic Relief Worldwide has also
signed an agreement to implement United Nations World Food Program (UN
WFP) School Feeding Programs across West Darfur in partnership with the
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Islamic Relief USA representative Arif Shaikh, who recently returned from
Darfur on a humanitarian mission, is available for comment or interview.