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Displaced families in Darfur in need of food

Thousands in Sudan's Darfur region are still living in camps after fleeing violent attacks. Fatma Isaa Isaak, 37, is just one of thousands depending on World Vision's food aid distribution at the Al Salaam camp in South Darfur.

April 2008

With her baby strapped to her back, Fatma describes her harrowing escape from an armed militia attack on her village.
With her baby strapped to her back, Fatma describes her harrowing escape from an armed militia attack on her village.
Photo ©2007 Michael Arunga/World Vision
At the camp, World Vision staff work tirelessly, distributing food rations from the World Food Program (WFP) to those in need.

However, getting the food rations to distribute is becoming increasingly difficult. Recently, World Food Program trucks have become a target of violence. Armed assailants have hijacked 60 trucks since January and killed five WFP drivers during March and early April.

Despite the challenges of increased instances of violence, as well as rising food and transportation costs, World Vision staff members continue to provide ongoing food distributions to more than 400,000 displaced Darfurians within this and 20 other camps in the region.

Resources are constantly stretched as the fighting continues and thousands are fleeing their villages in search of safety. According to the United Nations, 2.4 million people in Darfur are displaced. That's one-third of the region's population. (View a U.N. profile [pdf] of the humanitarian crisis.)

Since December 2007, World Vision has registered more than 18,000 new arrivals at the Al Salaam camp. Fatma — who was driven from her village after a militia attack — and thousands like her seek safety in numbers, food aid, and care that camps try to provide.

Fatma's story

Fatma was understandably distraught when she arrived at the Al Salaam camp.

With a tremble in her voice, Fatma recounts how her family was scattered after heavily armed militia attacked their village in June 2007. "We fled from Kadaat village, which is over 300 kilometers [185 miles] away, after armed people attacked us four days ago," she recalls.

"We were attacked very early in the morning, and I saw several people killed, houses burnt, and property being carried away."

In the confusion, she was separated from her husband. "I [also] do not know the whereabouts of my elderly mother, who may have been caught up in the attack," she says, tears welling in her eyes. Thankfully, Fatma was able to gather all seven of her children before embarking on the perilous journey to the camp.

Escape to safety

A truck carrying internally displaced people arrives at the Al Salaam camp in South Darfur.
A truck carrying internally displaced people arrives at the Al Salaam camp in South Darfur.
Photo ©2007 Michael Arunga/World Vision

Driven from their village, Fatma, her children, and about 200 others set out to find safety, food and shelter at the camp.

Fatma and her children escaped on a truck driven by Abraham Adahi, who estimates that he carried more than 100 passengers and their luggage to the camp.

"I had to use secret routes to avoid the danger of meeting armed militia, who would have killed all these passengers," Adahi said. "I am aware they do not want people transported into camps."

During the three days of travel, most of the adults did not have any food. Thankfully, someone at a small market along the way sympathized with the children's plight and gave them something to eat.

'We need food'

Al Salaam is the only camp within South Darfur accepting new arrivals. The other camps are already full and simply don't have the resources to take in any more of the displaced.

With that in mind, Fatma is grateful to have a place to stay. "I am happy that World Vision has received us well, after the experience of being hounded out of our village. But we need food, water, health services, and shelter since the rainy season is here with us," she says, anticipating a long stay in the camp.

Fatma registered with World Vision and received emergency rations for her desperate family. The daily rations consist of cereal grains, beans or peas, sugar, vegetable oil, and salt.

Ten months later, Fatma is still living at the Al Salaam camp. Check back soon at for an update about Fatma's family.

Learn more

>> Read about food aid and its role in tackling chronic poverty and world hunger.
>> Read a post from the World Food Program about how the recent killings of WFP truck drivers will affect food distribution.
>> View a United Nations profile of the humanitarian situation in Darfur (pdf file).

Two ways you can help

>> Pray that Fatma will be reunited with her husband and mother. Pray that resources will reach those whose lives have been ripped apart by the ongoing conflict in Darfur and that peace will come to this embattled region.
>> Help provide food aid and emergency supplies to those suffering in Darfur. Your gift will multiply five times in impact to help bring life-saving relief to the children and families devastated by war there.

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