Finding Humanitarian Space

Source: European Commission’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)
Daniel Dickinson
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.


Darfur A distribution of sorghum, beans, salt and oil is underway at Kalma camp just outside Nyala in Sudan’s South Darfur state. Orderly lines of patient people, mainly women, have formed as the process of identification, validation and finally distribution takes place.
Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, at a food distribution centre in Kalma camp, Darfur
This is one of many regular food distributions carried out in Kalma camp. Approximately 82,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the north and south of Darfur following a period of sustained conflict beginning in 2003; all these people, who have no other means to survive, need to be fed. Community leader Sabir Karan Redwan like many of the inhabitants of Kalma has lived there for 8 years. ‘We don’t have enough food, my people are going hungry. Life is very harsh here,’ he said. The camp, now dusty and windswept ahead of the rainy season, is the second largest camp in Darfur and is still receiving more internally displaced people or IDPs as the inter-tribal conflicts and clashes between rebel groups and government forces continue across this vast desert-like swathe of western Sudan. ‘This is not a good life for us,’ said Sabir Karan Redwan, ‘but we must stay here until it is safe to go home to our villages, to the land that our fathers lived on. We all hope this is possible, but at the moment we are not optimistic.’ Security across Darfur and in particular the safety of people like Sabir Karan Redwan and his community was one of the main issues raised by the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva during a recent mission to Sudan. Speaking at Kalma camp, which is funded as part of the European Commission 120 million euro country programme, she said: ‘The European Commission, through our partners on the ground here in Kalma, is doing its best to ensure that the needs of displaced people are met. We are funding food distributions as well as nutritional care and some health projects. ‘In camps like this we can provide food and basic services. But we worry about the people in those areas across Darfur which are difficult to reach because of insecurity. Security across Darfur and access to all areas are critical if we are to preserve the lives of people living here. We need access and security to provide humanitarian assistance, to open up a chance for the economic development of Darfur, so we can break out the vicious circle of crisis breeding insecurity and insecurity deepening the crisis.” In meetings with senior Government of Sudan officials, Commissioner Georgieva sought assurances that security and access remains a priority of the administration. At a meeting in Khartoum, the State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Mutrif Siddiq Ali said: ‘Security is our responsibility and we do our utmost to ensure that there is access to troubled areas.’ Two United Nations security missions are based in Sudan, UNAMID, a joint mission with the African Union for Darfur and UNMISS in South Sudan. ‘The support of the United Nations compliments the national effort to provide security and we make our best effort to facilitate the deployment of its personnel.’ said State Minister, Mutrif Siddiq Ali. Since February this year, access to the troubled East Jebel Mara region which crosses into North, South and West Darfur has been impossible for international humanitarian aid agencies. This has raised concerns that there are many thousands of people who are in urgent need of relief supplies. In spite of relentless efforts by relief organisations, access has not yet materialised. Meanwhile, back at Kalma camp, a sand storm of habuub is approaching which will soon engulf those queues of patient people waiting for food. The sand, dust and debris thrown up by the habuub is suffocating and unpleasant but these people have waited too long to give up now queuing now.
spotted by RS

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