October 16, 2007
The town of Muhajariya in Darfur, Sudan, was attacked by armed groups on October 8 and October 9, forcing the evacuation of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) international staff. More than 35,000 people living in Muhajariya and its immediate vicinity have been directly affected by these attacks and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. There have been unconfirmed reports that two of our national staff members have been killed. The whereabouts of a number of staff members is still uncertain. At this stage there is no further information. MSF is very concerned about its staff members and the humanitarian situation of the population of Muhajariya.
Sudanese MSF staff members remaining in Muhajariya have set up a mobile clinic for the thousands of people who have moved to the northern outskirts of the town to escape the violence. They also re-opened the local hospital on October 12. Medical care is being provided to an average of 100 people a day. This includes the treatment of 23 gunshot victims.
Teams are setting up water-and-sanitation facilities to limit the risks of fecal contamination of the water sources and epidemic outbreaks where people have congregated. A water bladder has been installed and 15 emergency latrines have been constructed.
Despite persistent rumors of renewed hostilities, no further major security incidents have been reported in Muhajariya. MSF is preparing to send additional medical supplies and staff to Muhajariya as soon as the security situation permits. MSF hopes to be able to return the full team to the area as soon as possible to resume all our urgently needed medical activities.
Since the onset of the fighting in 2004, a series of raids around Muhajariya have pushed people to flee repeatedly. In late 2006, almost half the population of Muhajariya fled violence and intimidation, seeking refuge in outlying areas or making their way to Seleah and Yassin. Villages were burned, civilians killed, and water points, livestock, and food resources destroyed or looted. After a recent period of relative calm, new attacks were launched in August 2007, mainly targeting civilians trying to work in their fields and forcing them to abandon the lands they had just planted.
Since July 2004, MSF has been providing humanitarian medical assistance to 70,000 people, including residents and displaced people in Muhajariya. With an average of 4,000 consultations a month in 2007, the hospital provides care for patients suffering from diarrhea and respiratory infections; ante- and post-natal services for women; emergency surgery; and a nutrition program for malnourished children. Today, Darfur is one of MSF's largest humanitarian operations, with 120 international and more than 1,800 Sudanese staff working throughout an area the size of France.
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