December 29, 2008

Jordan to Build Health Centre in Darfur

During the past few days, there have been several negative news articles coming from Africa including "Witnesses report massacre at church in Congo," "African Union suspends Guinea following coup," and "Zimbabwe cholera death toll soars past 1,500." However, I was pleasantly surprised to read about Jordan's King Abdullah II plan to setup a health center in Sudan's Darfur region. Here is the complete article from AFP (Photo courtesy of King Abdullah II's official website,

AMMAN (AFP) - Jordan's King Abdullah II on Thursday ordered the setting up of a health centre in Kas in Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur to serve more than 25,000 people there, an official said.

"A military airplane left today (Thursday) for Darfur, carrying equipment to build the medical centre, which will be fully operational in January 2009," Mohammed Aitan, secretary of Jordan's Hashemite Charity Organisation, said in a statement.

Aitan said the facility is expected to cost 400,000 dollars.

"A second military plane carrying more equipment will go to Darfur later," he said without elaborating.

Conflict has been raging in the Darfur region in western Sudan since 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime.

UN officials estimate that up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have been forced to flee their homes.

Although I would have preferred aircraft from Royal Jordanian Airlines to carry the equipment rather than military transport, Jordan's effort is a significant step in providing the necessary humanitarian assistance necessary to facilitate the process of ending the war in western Sudan and building a sustainable future for everyone.

To maximize its effectiveness, I hope this health center is part of an orchestrated effort to provide humanitarian relief to the region's most vulnerable people and I encourage other countries to contribute in similar ways. A small amount of foreign assistance to support programs that have clearly-defined measured results will go far in providing the tools for people to help themselves.

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