Continuing fighting in the Jebel Marra and Jebel Si areas of North Darfur, Sudan, has forced families to flee for protection. These latest hostilities began in mid-January, and to date close to 58,000, mostly women and children, have abandoned their homes, farms and livestock for the relative safety of camps near the towns of Tawilla and Sortony.
This part of Darfur is a tough semi-desert environment where little can grow and with temperatures regularly rising above 40 degrees Celsius. Without help, few can overcome these challenges and survive in such a tough place.
As the displacement continues it is the very young, the sick and the elderly who find themselves most at risk as they make the 50km trek to Tawilla. Currently, Doctors WIthout Borders (MSF) is providing emergency aid to an estimated 40,000 displaced people arriving in Sortony and another 18,000 in Tawilla in need of water, food and medical attention. “We need to look at both the immediate and future needs of the displaced,” says David Therond, MSF head of mission in Sudan “we need to guarantee that their immediate needs are met until the security situation normalises.”
Local authorities and international NGOs are anticipating the flood of displaced people to increase. Before the fighting, the area had an estimated population of 140,000, of which about 70,000 have already departed.
According to David Therond, “in these first weeks of the intervention, we have focused on delivering non-food item (NFI) kits to the displaced who often arrive with nothing. These provide some basic cooking and cleaning utensils as well as some materials from which they can build a shelter.” MSF is also looking to ensure a steady, clean supply of drinking water to the large population of the camps. Currently, about 9.5 litres of water per person, per day is provided, but this is not enough. The goal is to increase this to 15 litres. The camps also need to be provided with a basic sanitation system. With so many living so tightly together, hygiene is a big concern. So far, MSF has erected 250 latrines, with the goal of building a total of 700.
In the coming weeks, MSF is planning to launch a vaccination programme for measles and polio, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
MSF started working in Darfur in 1985. MSF is a medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. Currently, MSF is working in Sudan in the states of North Darfur, West Darfur, White Nile and Gedaref.
Read more of MSF's activities in Sudan