UNICEF launches drive against measles polio in Darfur Sudan

UNICEF will provide Vitamin A supplements and vaccinations to more than 2 million children across Darfur in a bid to prevent measles, which is a leading killer in the developing world. At least 100,000 children, living mainly near the border with Chad, will also be immunized against polio, UNICEF announced in a statement issued today. The children’s health schemes have begun as the UN and aid agencies warn of a humanitarian crisis engulfing Darfur. Civilians have been killed or forcibly moved, villages destroyed or abandoned and livestock stolen during months of attacks by the Janjaweed militias, which were recruited and armed by the Sudanese Government in its battle with two rebel groups. Since early last year more than 1 million people are estimated to have left their homes and at least 150,000 have fled into neighbouring Chad. Today the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said hundreds of new refugees have arrived in the Chadian border town of Adre since Tuesday, fleeing reported fighting in three districts of Darfur. UNHCR staff are trying to relocate as many refugees as possible away from the border and into its camps as the rainy season begins this month. So far more than 81,000 refugees have been moved. Spokesman Ron Redmond said the agency was sending additional staff and trucks to Adre to help handle this week’s influx. Meanwhile, UNICEF is attempting to improve the quality of nutrition, education and drinking water for children still living inside Darfur. About 25 feeding centres have been established to provide food for malnourished children, and UNICEF is supplying food to other areas across Darfur. Over the next three months the agency is also helping to construct or renovate 158 temporary classrooms, and is providing teaching materials and school supplies for 34,000 pupils.

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