Mercy Corps is working to improve conditions for nearly 90,000 Sudanese living in three refugee camps across Darfur, a region roughly the size of France where more than 2 million people have fled their homes.
Jan Pronk, the UN's Special Representative for Darfur, visited Zalingei on June 2 to review the conditions of some 60,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Zalingei's four camps. Mercy Corps is working to improve living conditions in two of these camps, Hessa-Hissa and Hamidiya, by implementing water and sanitation, hygiene, protection and children's psycho-social programs.
During his visit, Pronk met with representatives from Mercy Corps and other international relief agencies in Darfur and outlined his desire to see more attention paid to host populations and to shift from relief to development strategies. He expressed optimism that the structural changes underway now could lead to peace, citing the tripling of the size of the African Union monitoring program, the implementation of the north-south peace agreement and the resumption of the Darfur talks on June 10.
Mercy Corps has begun providing education supplies and services to 14,000 children, including rehabilitating three schools and constructing 180 temporary classrooms, and continues to look for new and creative ways to meet the needs of families living in the camps.