UN: Health crisis easing in Sudan
While violence remains a major concern, the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region is easing and large-scale deaths from malnutrition and disease are likely to be averted as international assistance pours in, UN officials said this week. Many of the 1.25 million people driven from their homes in conflict-torn Western Sudan still lack decent shelter, and only about a third have reliable access to clean water, according to a UN report released Thursday. But as food aid arrives, malnutrition is dropping back toward levels before the conflict in Darfur, and access to health care for many families is better than it was before attacks by government-backed militias began, UN officials said. “I feel we are slowly but surely getting on top of [the health crisis],” said Mike McDonagh, who manages the Darfur relief effort for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Khartoum. Since a cease-fire agreement in April paved the way for greater access to Darfur by assistance groups, the number of international aid workers in the region has risen to 470 from 37, with a corresponding rise in Sudanese workers for the groups. As a result, aid agencies now are reaching all of the large encampments of displaced families and many of the small camps, McDonagh said.