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UMCOR allocates $1 million to Sudan startup work

 


UMCOR allocates $1 million to Sudan startup work

April 15, 2005


By Linda Bloom*


STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS)—Responding to the humanitarian crisis in the Sudan, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has approved a $1 million-plus startup budget for work in the African country.

The budget will cover personnel, equipment and operations costs and program activities. UMCOR directors approved the funding request during the April 11-14 spring meeting of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the agency’s parent organization.

Sudan remains a priority for the board, according to the Rev. R. Randy Day, its chief executive. In March, the United Nations estimated that at least 180,000 people died in the Darfur region during the previous 18 months because of illness and malnutrition.

Up to 2 million have been displaced because of fighting between Sudanese government forces and rebel groups. Amnesty International estimates that perhaps 50,000 people have died from violent attacks.

The World Food Programme recently announced it would be forced to cut the rations of more than a million victims of fighting in Darfur, beginning in May, to help stretch food supplies through the summer. 

UMCOR’s work will target the people of South Darfur, where fewer humanitarian services are available, and focus on agriculture, small-scale livelihoods and distribution of non-food items. Marc Maxi, UMCOR’s regional director for Africa and the Caribbean, said the coordinating team in the Sudan is "fully assembled."

The agency’s head of mission has established an office in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital city, where the finance director and administrative, logistics and security manager also are based. The emergency coordinator has set up a field office in Al Daein in South Darfur.

Initial work will focus on about 250 families in the Ed Al Fursan community south of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. About a third of the start-up budget comes from a $311,448 grant from Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio. That money, according to Maxi, will be used for agriculture work, including seeds, tools and agricultural extension activities. Planting will begin in late April, with harvesting expected in September.

Bishop Bruce Ough of West Ohio, an UMCOR director, explained how the church’s donation for the Sudan work came about. "The pastor challenged the congregation to take half of what they normally would spend for Christmas presents and give it to this offering," he said.

A grant of $204,000 from Neighbors in Need, a German donor group, will be used for nonfood items such as cooking pots and blankets, he said.

"We consider what we’re doing now as an investment to leverage more financing," Maxi added.

The project also has received $337,250 in funding from donations to UMCOR’s Advance for the Sudan Emergency and $177,714 from the Helen Shepherd Fund, a board-related bequest for food security.

Donations for the "Sudan Emergency," Advance No.184385, can be dropped in church collection plates or mailed to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. Credit-card gifts can be made by calling (800) 554-8583.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 

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