Chad: MSF Treats Wounded After New Wave of Violence in Darfur



On Thursday, June 19, intertribal clashes resumed in the Um Dukhun area, in Sudan’s Central Darfur state. The fighting resulted in the death or injury of more than 100 people, and many who were displaced from their homes crossed into neighboring Chad. The violence occurred in four towns—Selele, Marduf, Magan, and Kabar—located between the Um Dukhun and Nyala areas.

In the days following the clashes, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams treated 15 patients, all with gunshot wounds, at the MSF health center on the Chadian side of Um Dukhun. Six needed major surgery due to severe injuries, while nine suffered fractures and tissue damage. The patients were referred to the MSF-run hospital in nearby Tissi. After being stabilized, three were immediately referred to MSF’s surgical project in Abéché, but only one survived.

Of the two patients who died, one was a pregnant woman who went into labor after she was shot and gave birth to stillborn twins before herself dying of complications. Rain has delayed the transfer of the three remaining patients to Abéché, and the lack of blood donors for surgical operations has added to the complications of treating the wounded.

“The population is perpetually trapped in [a cycle of] ongoing violence and displacement,” says MSF’s Dr. Katrin Draber in Tissi. “I’m appalled to see that this indiscriminate violence even killed a woman who was pregnant with twins and another who was shot in the chest while holding her baby.”

Each time violence erupts in the Darfur area, people flee across the border into Chad in search of safety. Continual displacement exacerbates existing health conditions and escalates already dire needs for shelter, clean water, sanitation, and access to health care in the region. On top of this, the rainy season, which has just started, is likely to make people’s already poor living conditions significantly worse.

MSF has been working in Chad for more than 30 years. The organization runs regular programs in Abéché, Am Timan, Massakory, Moissala, and Tissi. In 2014, MSF also started emergency projects in Bokoro in response to acute malnutrition and in Sido and Gore in southern Chad to meet the medical and humanitarian needs of refugees fleeing Central African Republic.

El Sereif camp, near the South Darfur State capital Nyala, saw an influx of newly displaced people in March and April, fleeing conflict and the total destruction of their villages in areas to the southwest of Nyala. The MSF medical team that had been working in the camp since August 2013 was already responding to the health consequences of poor living conditions. While some of the new arrivals have now left the camp, the 4,500 that have stayed are in particularly terrible conditions, sheltering on a patch of desert with almost none of the basics essentials to sustain life. Before the new influx, camp residents were surviving on less than five litres of water per person per day when the recognized minimum for emergencies is 15 litres – and the new arrivals have access to even less water, not enough to adequately sustain human life.