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Darfur: aid agencies warn of impending catastrophe

 In response to the $200 million pledged to the African Union force at Tuesday's donor conference, a group of leading international aid agencies (CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, IRC, Oxfam and Tearfund) working in Darfur issued the following joint statement. "Yesterday donors were asked to respond generously to the desperate situation in Darfur, but instead the African Union force is still $150 million short of what it asked for. The African Union force is the only protection civilians have in Darfur, yet due in part to the lack of funding, many of their patrols have stopped and come nightfall the troops retreat to barracks. Even if the money pledged is delivered, according to the chairperson of the African Union it will only keep the mission afloat until September. What then? If donors continue to opt for protection on the cheap, it will be the men, women and children of Darfur who will pay the price. With few exceptions, the AU is still dependent on just five donors (the UK, US, the EU, Canada and the Netherlands) for the vast bulk of funding for the force. We urge all the other donor countries who are concerned about what is happening in Darfur to donate generously and work with the African Union to ensure we avert an even greater catastrophe."