Unicef asks for £20m to help Sudan refugees

The United Nations Children's Fund is appealing for £20m to help more than one million Sudanese people displaced by fighting in the Darfur region.

Paula Claycombe, for Unicef, said yesterday that other relief agencies would also be making an appeal for aid in response to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur's three states in western Sudan, where rebel groups have been fighting since last year.

Ms Claycombe said the fighting had forced one million people into camps inside Sudan, while another 200,000 people had taken up emergency residence in cities and towns in the region. Another 110,000 people had taken refuge in neighbouring Chad.

Unicef released a statement yesterday saying a temporary ceasefire was allowing aid workers to help hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Joanna van Gerpen, the Unicef representative in Khartoum, said: "It is imperative that we take maximum advantage of this window to save as many lives as possible."

The UN and human rights groups have reported widespread atrocities in the Darfur region, which is home to a fifth of Sudan's 30 million people. The Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement launched a rebellion last year to demand a greater share of power and wealth.

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