Fighting Forces MSF Team to Leave Muhajariya, South Darfur

Valérie Batselaere/MSF
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People are left without sufficient care; MSF team hopes to return soon

Following heavy fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur, on January 15, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) temporarily relocated most of its medical team to Nyala, the regional capital, about 80 km (50 miles) away. The team learned that the MSF base in Muhajariya was completely destroyed by fire, however, the MSF clinic remains functional.

After MSF’s evacuation, more than 35,000 people living in Muhajariya and its immediate surroundings who are directly affected by the violence are now without sufficient and urgently-needed medical assistance. MSF hopes to be able to return with a full team to the area as soon possible. MSF asks all parties to the conflict to respect humanitarian actors providing essential medical aid to the civilians.

"It is frustrating to be out of Muhajariya at a time where we can support the population, but we are trying to return and continue our medical care as before, as soon as the circumstances allow," says Jose Hulsenbek, MSF’s coordinator for operations in Darfur.

Prior to the team’s departure, staff were busy treating people who were wounded during the heavy fighting. There were 25 patients who were given urgent care, 18 of whom were treated for gunshot wounds. Upon MSF’s departure, the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) assisted with the transportation of six of the wounded to Nyala Hospital for further care.

"When we had to evacuate, it was not clear what would happen to the patients. In the end, for some of the injured, a helicopter evacuation to Nyala was arranged and it was a relief for me, that they would get necessary treatment,” says MSF doctor Henrike Meyer. “If I had the choice to stay or to go I guess I would prefer to stay with the patients."

A small team of Sudanese MSF staff remaining in Muhajariya continue to provide basic, life-saving services. However, without surgical services, this is far from meeting the needs of the population.

The security situation remains unclear. It is reported that most women and children have fled the town.