As the UN statement of 17 January made clear, humanitarian agencies are struggling in exceptionally and increasingly difficult circumstances to deliver vital aid to those in need in Darfur. DFID funding is providing training for humanitarian agencies to prevent, mitigate and mange security risks to their staff. Through our contributions to the Common Humanitarian Fund, the UN also receives funding to help co-ordinate and respond to security incidents. Our overall level of funding remains high (we are the second largest bilateral donor to Darfur) and we have taken steps to ensure that our funding is as flexible as possible so our partners can better manage restrictions and relocations of their activities on the ground.
At political level, we are working with all sides to the conflict to ensure the ability of humanitarian agencies to operate freely, securely and without constraint. We are calling on all sides to cease the violence immediately; renew the ceasefire and political process and accept the AU/UN peacekeeping force for Darfur.
During the last six months, well over 400 humanitarian workers have been temporarily relocated or evacuated in 31 operations across Darfur. Only one agency has withdrawn completely from Darfur in the last two years, and that was done at the insistence of the Government of Sudan. Humanitarian agencies have found it increasingly difficult to maintain access to areas in need given the pervasive insecurity and attacks on their compounds and staff. Basic relief operations in large areas are being maintained by locally-hired staff. The strong efforts made by agencies have limited the impact of withdrawals to date, but without the specialist support and protection-by-presence of international staff, there are concerns that the quality of the work done may decline and the humanitarian conditions begin to deteriorate.
DFID is providing funding to assist humanitarian agencies to prevent, mitigate and manage security risks to their staff. Through our contributions to the Common Humanitarian Fund, the UN also receives funding to help co-ordinate and respond to security incidents. In addition to this support, our partners receive flexible funding that enables them to manage restrictions and relocations of their activities on the ground.