First aid in 6 months reaches Darfur

2010-09-20 22:17

Khartoum - Critical medical and food supplies for children have been delivered to a trouble spot in Darfur for the first time in six months, the UN and Sudan's government said on Monday.

Teams from the UN Children's Fund, or Unicef, and World Health Organisation (WHO) provided emergency support, paediatric drugs and therapeutic food to health clinics in the Jebel Marra uplands, they said in a statement.

"Conducted jointly by Unicef, the WHO and government partners, the missions brought deliveries of essential medicines and nutritional supplies," it said.

Heavy fighting erupted in March this year between the army and rebel forces in Jebel Marra, a mountain and fertile valley region in Darfur that was a bastion of the rebellion that broke out in 2003.

The teams reached areas that have been "inaccessible for six months," added the statement which came after a meeting in Khartoum between UN and Sudanese government officials on Sunday.

Lack of security had made access difficult, and aid workers said the health and condition of young children in the region had been a growing concern.

Polio vaccinations were also brought in as part of the delivery, which took place last week.

But due to poor roads, some supplies had to be shifted from trucks onto donkeys for the final stretch into remote areas.

Since ethnic minority rebels rose up against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum in 2003, about 300 000 people have been killed in Darfur and 2.7 million have fled their homes, according to the UN.

The Khartoum government puts the death toll from the fighting at 10 000.