Agencies Appeal for Support Amid Child Malnutrition Crisis in Darfur, Chad

LONDON – Some of the United Kingdom's leading aid agencies have warned of the "alarmingly high" levels of malnutrition in children living in parts of Darfur and Chad, which are plagued by chronic food shortages.

Member agencies of the U.K. umbrella organization DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) are urging the public to keep giving generously so that vital medicines and medical equipment can be stocked before the heavy rains arrive in parts of Darfur and Chad.

According to a recent nutrition survey by the U.K.-based charity Tearfund, 30 percent of babies at the El Neem camp in Ed Daien, South Darfur, are malnourished – double the level considered to be an emergency. The situation has been described as "deeply serious" by Tearfund, which says the problem has been made worse with the arrival of at least 30,000 new arrivals who poured into the camps in the last few months.

"I was at the El Neem camp a few weeks ago," recalled Nigel Timmins, Tearfund's Operation Manager for Darfur.

"Mothers sat there with their children. To them their child is the center of their universe and to not be able to feed them is heart breaking," the relief worker reported. "It's such a basic instinct to want to take care of your child, and they desperately need to know that someone is going to look after them."

Timmins urged the public to support DEC's Darfur and Chad Crisis Appeal to save lives and keep families together.

"I believe we have a moral obligation to stand with them," the charity manager stated. "[T]hey're real people caught up in an ongoing conflict. They have lives, hopes and futures, and we need to persevere and see this through."

Tearfund has been working in Darfur since 2004, providing vital feeding programs, ensuring people have access to water and sanitation, educating people about health and hygiene and making sure people have seeds and tools to begin to be able to feed themselves.

Other DEC member agencies include: ActionAid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Concern, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, and World Vision.