Next month, what little food Nura Bashar Ali was able to save from last year’s pitiful harvest will be gone. A year ago, her remote village, Sawani, and its neighbour Tungula, deep in the arid planes of Northern Darfur, were destroyed during fighting.
Some 2,500 people, mostly women and children, were forced to seek refuge in mountains ten kilometres from their homes.
Too frightened to return, Nura and her neighbours keep their belongings packed, ready to run if the fighting resumes. “It was terrible when my village was attacked,” says the 35 year-old mother of seven. “There was shooting everywhere. We didn’t even have time to collect the children.”
As the searing heat of Sudan’s unforgiving dry season begins to take its hold over Darfur, Nura’s prospects look bleak. The gap between life and death closes as every day passes. Yet there is some hope. Because of its contacts with all the parties to the conflict in Darfur, and given its long-standing neutrality, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is one of the few organisations that can cross the frontlines of this conflict to reach needy people in remote areas.
Every three months, the organisation distributes enough food aid to ease the crisis. In just ten days, ICRC convoys can deliver 600 tonnes of food aid to 20,000 people.
“I’ve received two bags of sorghum, a couple of bags of lentils, three cans of cooking oil and a kilo of salt,” says Nura at a Red Cross food distribution point deep in the bush. “I’m so happy for this kind of help because we have nothing. All the time I had to worry about finding food but now I’m really happy. It’s good for my family and I can relax a little now that I don’t have to worry so much.”
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