The European Commission (EC) has released €12 million (US $14.7 million) in humanitarian aid to help tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees who fled to Chad after violence erupted in Sudan's western region of Darfur, the EC announced on Friday.
In a statement, the EC said part of the donation would be used on the immediate needs of host communities in Chad and refugees who choose to return home. The aid would be channelled through the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).
Since 2003, the political and humanitarian crisis in Darfur has caused significant population displacements beyond the country's borders. At least 213,000 Sudanese refugees are in 11 camps throughout the Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti, Biltine and Ouaddai regions of Chad. Water and agricultural resources are scarce in these areas, which are unsuited to large population influxes.
The EC funds would provide for the refugees' primary needs in areas like health, nutrition, water, hygiene, food security, civilian protection, education and shelter. They would also be used to meet the most pressing needs of the host population affected by the refugee influx.
The EC has donated a total of €213 million ($261.3 million) to the region since the beginning of the Darfur crisis. Some €86 million ($105.5 million) has been disbursed via ECHO, of which €72 million ($88.3 million) was distributed to Darfur and €14 million ($17.1 million) to Chad.
The conflict in Darfur broke out in February 2003 when rebels took up arms, alleging discrimination and marginalisation of the region by the Sudanese government. The government is accused of backing a scorched-earth counterinsurgency by Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed, in response.
At least 2.4 million people continue to be affected by the conflict, including 1.86 million civilians who have been internally displaced.
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