Aid workers attacked in Darfur

 CAFOD's partners working in Darfur, ACT/Caritas have faced attacks when delivering aid in the south of Darfur. CAFOD's international director Lesley-Anne Knight has returned from a recent visit, and saw for herself the vulnerability of families and communities. She said: "There is a need for more and better resourced African Union (AU) troops, this would vastly improve the current security situation, which at the moment leaves aid workers and the vast numbers of homeless people open to attacks. AU troops number around 7,500, in a country the size of Western Europe. Active protection is urgently needed so that people can collect water, firewood and work the land without being attacked." Members of ACT/Caritas were returning from AL Obeid to Nyala, when six armed men on horseback and camels stopped their vehicle. Aid workers were threatened and forced out of the car and told to lie down on the ground. Staff involved in the incident, report that everyone is safe though shaken. ACT/ Caritas use commercial trucks and white painted M6 lorries when transporting life saving food and materials to those most in need, these trucks and lorries are clearly marked as containing aid. Acting Director for ACT/Caritas, Mayen Wol Jong, said: "At the moment banditry is the greatest worry we have when travelling. Though we have knowledge of the area, one can never fully know when and where bandits will hit the next time." The ACT/Caritas programme has been in operation for nearly a year, and during that time the number of people made homeless in the country has more than doubled from 2 to 4 million. Lesley-Anne Knight said: "Darfur will become another forgotten emergency, silently escalating, if the root causes of the conflict are not addressed. There is an urgent need to reach out to all parties, Arab nomads, internally displaced people and other affected communities. Peacebuilding, at the grass roots level is now crucial".

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