Tuesday, March 15, 2005

UN estimate of Darfur deaths soars to 180,000

More than 180,000 people have died in Sudan's conflict stricken Darfur region over the past 18 months, UN humanitarian affairs chief Jan Egeland says. The United Nations had previously estimated about 70,000 dead from the fighting, disease and malnutrition linked to the Darfur conflict.

The growing toll was announced as the United Nations struggles to find ways to end the violence in the western Sudanese region where almost two million people have been displaced.

"It has been at least 10,000, on average, of preventable deaths since the emergency became a big emergency, which was towards the end of 2003," the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs said.

If you say for the last 18 months, 10,000 a month, that's 180,000. It could be just as well more than 200,000 but I think 10,000 a month is a reasonable figure," Mr Egeland said.

He says the toll does not included those killed in the fighting between the local black population and government-backed militias. Mr Egeland last week said the 70,000 figure was obsolete.

The UN official says the toll has improved in recent months.

"Mortality has decreased in recent months because of effective relief work," he said.

More camps have been built and other international relief efforts have been stepped up over the past year. Mr Egeland said the violence was continuing in Darfur outside of refugee camps and that unless stabilisation efforts were increased the number of people forced out of their homes could rise to three or four million.

By In Solidarity 15 March 05


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