In Darfur, MSF Struggling to Provide Assistance

An expulsion order by Sudanese authorities in early March forced two out of five Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) sections to close nearly half of the organization’s medical programs in Darfur. MSF programs remaining in the region have been struggling to provide meaningful humanitarian assistance to those in need, as a result of insecurity and administrative constraints.

After the expulsion, valuable assets were seized, and medicines and other supplies had to be abandoned. Sudanese authorities also held passports of senior staff from the expelled MSF teams, making it impossible for them to leave the country until mid-April, more than one month after their official expulsion.

In addition, following the mid-March kidnapping of five MSF staff in Serif Umra and other serious security incidents, MSF teams made the difficult decision to close two projects in Serif Umra and Kebkabiya as it was no longer possible to continue providing medical assistance in a safe and meaningful way. Insecurity in the area has also led to the indefinite supension of the Tawila project. MSF provided direct medical assistance to more than 170,000 people via these three projects in North Darfur.

Today, six other MSF projects continue to remain open in northern Sudan, although their future is under careful review and depends on a clear improvement in the working environment in the coming weeks.

MSF remains fully committed to providing impartial medical assistance to the people of Sudan. Consequently, MSF is currently engaging in direct discussions with the Sudanese authorities in order to continue to deliver emergency medical aid in Darfur and elsewhere in northern Sudan.

MSF has been working in Sudan since 1979 and began working in Darfur in December 2003. Between 2004 and 2008, MSF teams in Darfur conducted more than 3 million medical consultations, treated 60,000 people through hospital admissions, and provided nutritional support to over 110,000 children in supplementary and therapeutic feeding centers.