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Darfur’s displaced rising, official warns

Thu., April 5, 2007

The U.N. humanitarian chief said Wednesday the number of displaced persons in Sudan’s Darfur region and neighboring countries has risen dramatically and urgent political action was needed to bring peace to the region.

John Holmes delivered his grim report to the U.N. Security Council after a weeklong visit to Sudan and neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic.

Holmes said 250,000 people had fled their homes in Darfur for refugee camps in the past six months, raising the number of displaced civilians now living in camps to 2.2 million – well over a third of Darfur’s population. That number could reach over half the population – about 3.3 million – in another 18 months or so if the violence continues.

Across the border from Darfur, the army has abandoned a large part of eastern Chad and left it to the rule of the militias and armed groups of all kinds, Holmes said. This has led to increasing ethnic and political violence.

MUNDA, Solomon Islands

Illness spreads in tsunami-hit region

Diarrhea has broken out among children huddled in camps of tsunami survivors in the Solomon Islands, a Red Cross official said Wednesday – the first worrying sign that thousands of people who lost their homes may be at risk of disease.

International aid was slow to trickle in to survivors, particularly in the hardest-hit town of Gizo in the western Solomons. At least 2,000 people spent a third unsheltered night on a hillside near Gizo after a magnitude-8.1 undersea quake sent waves up to 16 feet high smashed into the western Solomons on Monday.

Aid workers complained today that relief efforts are chaotic and lack resources as the homeless in squalid camp faced growing health risks.

The U.N. raised the death toll by six today to 34 and authorities estimate the number of homeless at around 5,600 in the impoverished chain of some 200 islands northeast of Australia in the South Pacific.


Reduced seal catch linked to ice melt

Thousands fewer seals were killed in the first phase of Canada’s controversial hunt compared with previous years, indicating that melting ice has depleted much of the herd in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, an official said Wednesday.

About 860 seals were killed during the three-day first phase that ended Wednesday night, said Fisheries Department spokesman Phil Jenkins, calling the catch “very low.”

Unusually warm weather has melted or thinned out much of the ice in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, drowning thousands of baby seals, Jenkins said. Seals cannot swim during the first few weeks of life.


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