Background Briefing

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Lack of Funding for Humanitarian Operations

U.N. OCHA asked for U.S.$1.5 billion in funding for Sudan for 2006, but as of the end of the first quarter it has received only 8 percent of that amount.110  In 2005, OCHA received 63 percent of its funding requirements for Darfur.111

In March 2006, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that it was forced to slash assistance for Darfur by 44 percent. The reason given was that the steady erosion of security in the past months severely limited its operations and access in Darfur (UNHCR is mainly operational in West Darfur). Its revised budget for 2006 was U.S.$18.5 million, down from the previously planned U.S.$33 million. 112

On March 16, 2006, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced that it had received only U.S.$2.6 million in donor money for Darfur, against a target of U.S.$91.7 million (i.e. less than 3 percent of the needed amount). UNICEF warned that because of lack of funding it was already in the process of planning to hand over life-sustaining and life-saving programs to the Sudanese government.113 That would be devastating for the internally displaced and other needy people in Darfur, however, because of the government’s limited capacity and its consistent claim that the needs are greatly exaggerated by the “international media.”114

The World Food Programme announced in March 2006 that cash shortages had forced it to cut food rations to more than 6 million people in Sudan.115  On April 28, WFP made a further statement that it was forced to cut food rations in Darfur in half because it had only received 32 percent of the $746 million it requires for Sudan. The head of WFP, James Morris, said “We have been pushed into this last resort of ration cuts in Sudan so we can provide the needy with at least some food during the lean season.”116

“Donor fatigue” appears to have set in, at a time when increased resources are needed to reach those whose lives are at greater risk because of Sudanese government and rebel policies and practices that have sharply curtailed humanitarian access.

[110] Human Rights Watch telephone interview from New York with international humanitarian aid official, March 27, 2006.

[111] Ibid.

[112] “UNHCR issues new appeals for Sudan operations; insecurity forces cut in Darfur budget,” UNHCR press release, Geneva, March 9, 2006, [online]

[113] UNICEF, “Humanitarian Action: Darfur, Sudan Donor Update,” March 16, 2006, [online]

[114] Government of Sudan, press statements, 2005.

[115] “Sudan’s Food Aid Cut by U.N. Due to Cash Shortages and Violence,” Bloomberg, March 10, 2006,  [online]

[116] “Adding insult to injury? Sharp ration cuts leave Darfur on a diet,” WFP press release, Khartoum-Geneva, April 28, 2006, [online]  at

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