Darfur death rates still 'disturbing', says WHO

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The Independent Online

Some 6,000 to 10,000 displaced people are dying from disease and violence every month in camps sheltering refugees who have fled their homes in Sudan's Darfur region, United Nations health agency officials said yesterday.

The survey results confirm an earlier estimate of a total death figure of 50,000 in the entire Darfur region since the start of the conflict, said Dr David Nabarro, head of crisis operations for the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"These figures are high," Dr Nabarro said. "It's disturbing that six months into this emergency we are still seeing these kinds of death rates."

The survey results show that displaced people in North and West Darfur are dying at between three and six times the expected rate. WHO and the Sudanese Health Ministry were unable to complete a study of settlements in South Darfur due to fighting.

Half to three-quarters of the deaths among children under five were linked to diarrhoea, which is often caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, while injury and violence were the cause of about 15 per cent of all deaths.

* The United Nations should "immediately investigate" whether atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region constitute genocide, the European Union's foreign ministers said yesterday. The ministers said there was no evidence that Khartoum had tried to disarm the Janjaweed militia.