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Not only people are dying in Darfur

William Ezekiel

The troubled western Sudan region of Darfur is facing another catastrophe with a growing number of animal deaths, including donkeys, in the region where more than 70 000 people have died in a major humanitarian crisis. Donkeys are economically vital for the impoverished people of Darfur.

The troubled western Sudan region of Darfur is facing another catastrophe with a growing number of animal deaths in the region where more than 70 000 people have died in what the United Nations has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

New arrivals in the remote area of Wad al-Bashir, where camps host more than 80 000 displaced people, say they are alarmed by the mounting number of animals dying there every day, especially donkeys.

Every day more than 150 donkeys are dying in al-Fashir and Kabkabia provinces in northern Darfur, said Fatima Haroun and Adam Abakir, a middle-aged couple who arrived from the town of al-Fashir a week ago.

Adam and his wife said they don’t know why the donkeys are dying but noted that the animals are always vulnerable as winter approaches.

Fatima said in Wad al-Bashir camp on Monday that of the family’s 50 goats and 10 donkeys, all of the goats and five of the donkeys were taken away by the notorious Janjaweed militia.

The other five donkeys died, the final one during the family’s 14- day trip to refuge in Khartoum.

Donkeys are economically vital for the impoverished people of Darfur, where Arab militias backed by the Sudanese government have been persecuting the black African population.

Darfur’s 20-month civil war between the government and two rebel groups has seen more than a million people displaced.

Staff of an international NGO have also expressed alarm at the rising number of donkey deaths at the Abu Showk camp, which is situated outside al-Fashir town in northern Darfur state.

Jeremy Hulme, a member of Spana, a society for the protection of animals, said that more than 8 000 donkeys have died recently in Darfur, something he attributed mainly to a lack of grazing land.

The chairperson of the KIDs for KIDs voluntary organisation, Patricia Parker, announced on Saturday a new plan in partnership with Spana aimed at keeping donkeys in displaced camps alive. Longer-term projects will involve giving the animals veterinary care in their home villages.

Parker and Hulme said they are planning an emergency programme to save the surviving donkeys as well as a project to train 100 community paravets a year.

Parker deplored the fact that the international community and the Sudanese government are not doing enough to combat the ongoing conflict and drought in Darfur.

“There is an urgent need to help families who are managing to stay in their villages, and an equal need to assist thousands who have been displaced, to return to their homes,” she said.

She told journalists that the KIDs for KIDs visit to Darfur included a presentation of more than 100 goats to Jugu Jugu village. One woman in the village said her new nanny goat is providing her children with four cups of milk a day.

Parker said her organisation is also undertaking a project in partnership with Intermediate Technology to provide sustainable projects to the most needy communities in northern Darfur, including the delivery of more than 1 000 goats.

“Following the success of our animal loan programme, providing six goats and one donkey to families who have none, we will be extending the project to at least another nine areas,” she announced.

The death and looting of so many animals has meant the price of animals has rocketed, making things even harder for poor families.—Sapa-DPA

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