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For Immediate Release

PHR Sounds Alarm about Safety and Survival in Darfur's Kalma Camp

Cambridge, Mass - 08/10/2010

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today raised grave concern for the residents of the Kalma Camp in South Darfur and the thousands of others displaced by recent fighting in the camp and a humanitarian blockade imposed by the Government of Sudan. The residents have now endured more than one week without access to life-saving and life-sustaining humanitarian aid.

"It's time to sound the alarm over Kalma Camp in South Darfur," said Frank Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights. "The camp is home to 90,000 children, women and men who have fled genocidal attacks by Sudanese forces and proxy militia since 2003. And now the Government of Sudan has blocked their access to life-saving humanitarian aid since August 2, 2010. The camps aren't capable of sustaining life—without food, water and medicine the people in the camps will begin to die, just as surely as if the government were attacking them with conventional weapons."

"Denial of access to essential food supplies, water and sanitation and medical assistance will pose serious threats to this population that has already survived mass killing, looting, forced displacement and rape. These threats will only be compounded as the rainy season in Darfur begins," said Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director for PHR, who has coordinated human-rights training in Sudan Darfur for PHR and was turned away from Kalma Camp in 2006.

The UN recently stated publicly that the Sudanese government had prevented humanitarian aid agencies from accessing the camp. Information about the conditions of the population of Kalma and several other camps has been seriously restricted since the March 2009 expulsion from Sudan of 13 leading humanitarian aid agencies. Intimidation by the Government of Sudan continues to hamper delivery of assistance to displaced Darfuris who depend upon international humanitarian aid for survival.

PHR continues to call on the UN Assistance Mission to Darfur (UNAMID) to provide full protection to civilians in Kalma and other camps and for the UN Security Council to authorize a more robust mandate if the Government continues to deny humanitarian assistance to populations it has displaced.

"Obstruction of humanitarian aid by the Government of Sudan in the context of Darfur has been alleged by the Prosecutor of International Criminal Court to constitute the crime of extermination," said Donaghue. "The world cannot stand by while more civilians die due to the repetition of these crimes."

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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