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    "Livelihoods From Livestock" Is Message From Darfur Refugees - UNHCR Calls In British Veterinary Charity
    By Anna Ohlden | October 10th 2007 03:54 AM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    LONDON, October 10 /PRNewswire/ --

    - With Photo

    A unique collaboration between a small British charity and the UNHCR in Chad will create the first ever strategic plan for dealing with livestock in an emergency situation.

    The British veterinary charity, SPANA, has just returned from a field trip to Eastern Chad, into which hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled from neighbouring Darfur. Earlier this year the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in Chad asked SPANA to draw up a strategic plan to sustain and support livestock in the region, as competition for natural resources between the various human populations was resulting in livestock management problems.

    Jeremy Hulme, Chief Executive of SPANA, who was part of the mission said: "Livestock are absolutely fundamental to the people of Eastern Chad but the influx of refugees from Darfur, with around 600,000 of their own animals has resulted in conflict over the already scant resources in this desert region. When people's livelihoods are their livestock, they are quite prepared to fight a battle every day to sustain them.

    "We heard how refugees encountered violence, theft and aggression from local Chadian villagers every time they left the safety of the camps and took their animals out to graze of collect firewood. Equally, we spoke with villagers who said their own animals were dying of starvation in increased numbers, as there wasn't enough grazing to go round, particularly in the dry season.

    "In addition, there is no co-ordinated annual vaccination campaign against diseases like anthrax, foot and mouth and pasteurellosis, in part because of a shortage of trained animal health workers in the refugee camps with limited access to even basic veterinary products. Vets who are part of the Government infrastructure have often no access to resources either, and cannot meet the increasing need that exists at a local village level."

    Access to sufficient water and grazing resources for livestock during the annual dry season of April-June was cited as the most serious issue facing livestock owners. Earlier this year 30% of all livestock in one refugee camp (Oure Cassoni) died of starvation. Proposals will be drawn up to safeguard the livestock population against future shortages, possibly by encouraging local villagers to harvest some of the relatively plentiful forage during the aftermath of the rainy season, and sell it to the refugees. This would hopefully avoid the conflict which characterises issues to do with grazing, and provide a regular income for local villagers, while avoiding death of livestock from lack of food in the camps themselves.

    SPANA paid tribute to the work of NGO's like Oxfam, Care International and Acted, in running the 12 refugee camps who themselves were unanimous in supporting the UNHCR/SPANA initiative. One NGO said that while WFP and UNHCR provide the shelter, security, food and water for the refugees, every other basic necessity, such as clothes, have to be paid for from money earned from their animals.

    SPANA also revealed details of a recent poll commissioned from Ipsos MORI which showed that many people in Great Britain would be more likely to donate to emergency appeals if they knew that a veterinary charity was involved in the response.

    37% of people questioned had donated to the Tsunami appeal, 12% to the Pakistan earthquake appeal and 8% to the Hurricane Katrina Appeal. But when asked if they were more or less likely to support a group of British Charities working together on an emergency if a veterinary care agency were involved, 50% said that they would be more likely to do so.

    Jeremy Hulme said "Our message about the importance of involving veterinary experts in the response mechanism for humanitarian disasters is one that clearly resonates with many potential donors.

    "We also found that NGO field staff working in places like Chad, Darfur and East Africa, have a first-hand understanding of the importance of livestock for livelihoods, and a real eagerness to institute more veterinary-based projects with SPANA."

    SPANA said that it would be sending the results of the MORI poll to the DEC who are currently reviewing their membership criteria. SPANA will continue to press the DEC to widen its membership, become more inclusive, and to incorporate specialist charities like itself, alongside its pre-existing core of large NGO's.

    SPANA was founded in North Africa 80 years ago, and now runs 19 veterinary centres and 21 mobile veterinary clinics in countries like Mali, Morocco, Ethiopia, Jordan and Syria. It focuses on working animals in the knowledge that they play a vital role in supporting poor families and communities. It has increasingly been asked to intervene in emergency situations and has operated veterinary missions to Kosovo, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Darfur and East Africa during the severe drought in 2006.

    Notes to Editors

    Broadcast quality b-roll footage of the most recent trip, including interviews (in Arabic) with refugees about problems they are facing, donkey being loaded with sacks of grain at distribution centres etc is available on request on mini-dv. Hi-res digital photos are also available and small sample have been included with this press release.

    Ipsos MORI conducted a nationally-representative survey of Great Britain adults (aged 15+), comprising 970 interviews, between 6-12 July 2007. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in people's homes, and the final results are weighted to the GB population profile.

    Both Jeremy Hulme and Simon Pope, who were both on the mission to Chad are available for interview.

    Note to Editors:

    The pictures accompanying this release are available through the PA Photowire. They can be viewed at http://www.mediapoint.press.net or http://www.prnewswire.co.uk.

    For more information please call Simon Pope on +44-(0)207-269-2689 or +44-(0)7811-404-874, E-mail simon@spana.org