Taken Question
Robert Wood
Acting Department Spokesman, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 23, 2009

Question: Can you provide a read-out of Charge d’Affaires Alberto M. Fernandez's recent trip to Darfur? What was his assessment of the region?

Answer: U.S. Embassy Khartoum Charge d’Affaires Alberto M. Fernandez and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) officials traveled to El Fasher, North Darfur, including a visit to Zam Zam Internally Displaced Person (IDP) Camp.

The arrival of more than 36,000 IDPs fleeing recent fighting in the past two months between armed opposition groups and the Sudanese government in South Darfur has severely strained Zam Zam camp's limited resources. This crisis has been exacerbated by the March 4 and 5 expulsions of 13 major international humanitarian agencies and the dissolution of three Sudanese non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by the Government of Sudan (GOS).

While the United Nations and remaining NGOs are exploring ways to provide certain life-saving assistance, they would be unable to fill the gap created by this emergency. There is a growing water shortage due to demand created by the recent IDP arrivals and the lack of available water resources at the camp. In addition, the influx of new IDPs has created a need for more land to accommodate the overflow.

We urge the Government of Sudan, in close cooperation with the UN and NGOs, to move quickly to address water, land, and other urgent issues at Zam Zam and other IDP camps across Darfur before the humanitarian situation deteriorates any further. As Secretary Clinton remarked last week, President Bashir and the government in Khartoum will be held responsible for each death that occurs in those camps caused by their expulsion of the aid workers.

PRN: 248