BOSTON -- International relief and development organization Oxfam America welcomes the additional $50 million in funding for African Union (AU) forces in Darfur in yesterday's Congressional Resolution. The agency noted that a robust and well-resourced force is imperative to ensuring the people of Darfur receive greater protection and that humanitarian aid workers have greater access to the populations they serve.
"We applaud the members of Congress, particularly Congresswoman Lowey (D-NY) and Senator Leahy (D-VT), who consistently appropriate funding for the African Union to protect the people of Darfur. In a year of difficult appropriations, this additional funding for the AU illustrates the priority placed on assisting the people of Darfur," said Oxfam America's President Raymond C. Offenheiser.
The funding for this peacekeeping operation comes at a time when access to those in Darfur is at its lowest point and aid workers face increasing violence. Earlier this week Oxfam and other agencies warned that the crisis was nearing a breaking point.
"We are hopeful that these extra resources will be put to use to protect the people of Darfur and our colleagues in the field," said Offenheiser.
Despite international attention and many months of top-level political debate, civilians in Darfur and Chad still face attacks on a daily basis. Aid agencies working in Darfur have repeatedly called for the AU force to be strengthened and this additional funding from Congress is a step in the right direction.
Oxfam has been working in Darfur for more than twenty years. Since the start of the current crisis, the agency has been providing water and sanitation to more than half a million people in camps and rural villages affected by the conflict, both in Darfur and Chad. As well as digging wells and building latrines, Oxfam distributes essential items such as soap, jerry cans, blankets and clothes, and provide health education to try and prevent the spread of disease.