Relief Agencies Seek to Help Darfur During 'Hunger Months'

While peace negotiators seek to find an end to the government-rebel conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur, the U.N is looking to supply food aid for refugees and residents. Norwegian Church Aid is assisting in the efforts.

While African Union mediators are trying to negotiate an end to the conflict between the Sudanese government and rebels, the United Nations is taking charge of helping supply food aid to the region's refugees and residents. Humanitarian aid group Norwegian Church Aid is among those working to provide some of the necessary supplies.

Relief Agencies Seek to Help Darfur During 'HungerSudanese refugee women wait for medical assistance for their children at the Primary Health Care center for malnourished children in Gereida town, 90kms (55.9 miles) south of Nyala town in Sudan's troubled Darfur province June 14, 2005. Doctors there have

On Friday, the UN World Food Program (WFP) issued an appeal for millions more in funds to help feed 3.5 million people in the region from August through October. The WFP will require about 84,000 metric tons of food for those months to help feed about 3.5 million people.

Presently, the WFP has received $324 million of the $561.5 million it needs for the emergency, a shortfall of 42 percent. It is preparing to provide food aid during months considered the "hunger season" where more than half of the Darfur population will need more food, according to a statement by the WFP on Friday.

Due to drought, insecurity, and a poor harvest last year, many people cannot provide for themselves. Others are stranded in refugee camps after being forced from their homes and farms, according to Ramiro Lopes da Silva, the WFP country director in Sudan.

Besides food, there are other pressing needs. Rain has already started to fall in some parts of Darfur, which means that refugee camps will quickly become muddy and uncomfortable. In addition, large pools of stagnant water will present a risk for the spread of disease, according to Norwegian Church Aid logistics officer Geir Hurlen Rodven.

In a statement released on Tuesday, NCA announced that in the coming month, the organization will be sending five plane loads of emergency supplies and food to the various locations in the region where it is currently operating.

To help with both the food and health needs, NCA will be providing emergency supplies which will include 10,000 plastic sheets, 36,800 blankets, 49,000 family-sized mosquito nets, medical supplies, two off-road vehicles and 25 metric tons (55,000 lbs) of emergency ration biscuits.

In anticipation wet weather, NCA has been stocking up some camps so that they will be prepared. It is currently operating in 33 different locations in the war-torn province of Darfur.

Its relief work is being done under the Action by Churches Together/Caritas aid groups banner. NCA reports that in the last 12 months, it has assisted nearly 500,000 people.

NCA's five plane loads of equipment, which include food, weigh about 225 metric tons. In comparison, the United Nations estimates that the total tonnage of food required to help feed 3.5 million people in the three months of August to October will total 84,000 metric tons.