The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) evacuated a team of 16 aid workers from Muhajariya in South Darfur, Sudan, yesterday, following an intense attack on the town.
Shooting was first heard in Muhajariya in the morning on October 8. By 1 p.m., it had intensified, and patients started to flee the hospital. The MSF team sought shelter in their compound while shooting and mortar fire continued. One person reached the MSF compound and was treated for a gunshot wound. Some staff members fled in an attempt to get their families to safety.
Early on October 9, shooting started up again in the market area. When the team reached the hospital, the structure was completely deserted. Houses and huts in the neighborhood were also emptied as people gathered their possessions and fled.
Prior to the attack, there were 43 patients hospitalized, including pregnant women about to deliver, 15 children with severe pneumonia, and malnourished children in the feeding center.
An estimated additional 39 wounded people are among the thousands seeking refuge on the outskirts of Muhajariya and further away. MSF medical teams attempted to set up a small treatment center to provide care for the wounded, but with ongoing fighting and rumors of more attacks, it is too dangerous to keep a medical team on the ground.
Since MSF runs the only hospital in Muhajariya, the evacuation of the team means that people are urgently in need of medical care. MSF hopes to be able to return to the area as soon as possible to provide medical assistance.
Since July 2004, MSF has provided humanitarian medical assistance to the resident population and successive waves of displaced people in Muhajariya. With an average of 4,000 consultations a month this year, the hospital provides care for patients suffering from diarrhea and respiratory infections; ante- and post-natal services for women; emergency surgery; and a children's nutrition program for a population of 70,000. Today, Darfur is one of MSF's largest missions with 120 international and more than 1,800 national staff working throughout an area the size of France.