Friday, March 1, 2024

Every two hours, at least one child dies in Sudan’s camps: report

In war-torn Sudan’s North Darfur state, at least one child dies every two hours in a camp, a newly released report says.

The nine-month war has wreaked havoc on the region’s humanitarian services as thousands of displaced people live in extremely difficult conditions.

It is estimated that about 13 children die each day due to the lack of food and other basic necessities.

The report was published on Monday, by Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF (Doctors Without Borders), a Paris-based international charity organisation that provides humanitarian medical care.

According to the report which has drawn global attention, the health system in North Darfur was supported by UN agencies before the war began in mid-April.

Soon after the conflict erupted, the aid came to an “abrupt halt”.

MSF is the only health care provider functioning in the Zamzam camp situated in North Darfur, which is one of the largest camps for displaced people in the country.

The camp is home to an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people. With a crude mortality rate of 2.5 per 10,000 people per day, the number of overall deaths in the camp is alarming.

“What we are seeing in Zamzam camp is an absolutely catastrophic situation,” said Claire Nicolet, head of MSF’s emergency response in Sudan.

“Those with severe malnutrition who have not yet died are at high risk of dying within three to six weeks if they do not get treatment. Their condition is treatable if they can get to a health facility. But many cannot,” she added.

At the same time, the report claims that the malnutrition programmes that were once present in El Fasher – the state capital – are now non-existent.

People are going hungry and dying as a result, since there have been no WFP (World Food Programme) food distributions from May 2023.

“Staff no longer receive salaries, equipment and medicines are in short supply, as are fuel for generators, water and other supplies that are needed to keep health facilities running,” the report added.

It is in January, usually, the stocks of food are filled up and stored after December’s harvest, but due to war, people have not been able to look after their crops.

MSF says, a month when malnutrition is supposed to be at its lowest every year, has now become the opposite.

Moreover, people drink water from swamps and rivers as clean water supply has been stopped in the region, the report highlighted.

Sudan received lesser rainfall than usual last year, which has worsened the state of clean water availability.

MSF urged the world to support their cause as they wish to “rapidly increase” their response in the camp, and the displaced people need “a far greater response”, they added.

In April last year, clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese army escalated and turned into a war.

The war between army chief Abdel Fattah al Burhan and his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces) killed thousands.

Around 15,000 were killed in a single city in the western Darfur region, according to UN experts, and about 10.7 million people were forced to flee their homes.

In addition, the UN claims that around 25 million people, including 14 million children, were in dire need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan.

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