Sudan: Clashes Displace Thousands in Darfur

Renewed fighting between government forces and opposition groups in North Darfur state over the last two months has forced thousands of families to flee from their villages.

Khartoum, February 7, 2011 – Renewed fighting between government forces and opposition groups in North Darfur state over the last two months has forced thousands of families to flee from their villages, the international medical humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.

MSF teams are providing medical assistance to the newly displaced people, who are living in precarious conditions in several camps in Shangil Tobaya, Dar Alsalam, and Tabit.

"People fled suddenly and arrived with nothing but their clothes,” said Cristina Falconi, MSF head of mission in Sudan. “Initially they set up makeshift shelters made out of their clothes and grass, to help protect them from the cold nights. MSF is providing plastic sheeting, blankets, mats, soap, and jerry cans that will help people cope with their most basic needs. Now that all the attention is focused on southern Sudan’s referendum, we shouldn't forget that there are pressing medical needs in Darfur."

Ten days ago, in the aftermath of fighting in the area of Tabit, MSF distributed essential household items to more than 500 people who have sought refuge in nearby Jerno. The fighting was the latest in a series of clashes that began in mid-December in Shangil Tobaya. During the hostilities, the MSF-supported Ministry of Health hospital was caught in the crossfire, forcing patients and staff to flee. Following this incident, some 7,000 newly displaced people gathered in two different camps near Shangil Tobaya town.

Following the fighting in Shangil Tobaya, MSF managed to provide a medical emergency response in the camps to help the newly displaced people cope with their immediate needs. A new clinic has been set up inside one of the camps and is currently providing 100 outpatient consultations per day. MSF has also distributed nutritious, vitamin-rich food to approximately 4,000 children under the age of five. Additional needs are being addressed by other organizations in the area.

MSF is also supporting a vaccination campaign sponsored by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, reaching more than 3,000 children and 200 pregnant women in and around Shangil Tobaya.

In South Darfur state, fighting in early December 2010 also displaced thousands of additional families. An MSF team is currently finalizing an assessment to determine the most urgent needs of hundreds of displaced families in Shaeria. MSF is also setting up a nutrition program, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, to address serious levels of malnutrition for people affected by continuing violence and poor access to health care.

MSF continues to provide primary and secondary healthcare in Darfur—including paediatric and reproductive healthcare—and counselling services, in Kaguro, Dar Zaghawa, Tawila, and Shangil Tobaya.

MSF has been working in Sudan since 1979, providing free-of-charge medical assistance to people suffering from the effects of armed conflict, poor access to healthcare, floods, droughts, disease outbreaks, and nutritional emergencies.

Today, MSF continues to provide medical and humanitarian assistance through several projects in different regions in North and South Sudan, including: Warrap, Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity, Northern and Western Bahr-el-Ghazal, Western and Central Equatoria, the transitional area of Abyei, Red Sea, Al-Gedaref, South and North Darfur.