The humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders says insecurity in Sudan’s Darfur region is blocking much needed medical care for thousands of people. The group says its members were attacked and robbed several times in recent weeks in all areas of Darfur.
Hiam el Zein is the head of mission for Doctors Without Borders. From the Town of Zalingei in West Darfur, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the problems.
“We have had many incidents as Doctors Without Borders during the last two weeks, incidents along the roads, attacking one of our ambulances, for example, robbery in our compound. Attacking also for robbery our teams on the roads and beating them.”
El Zein says it has affected the group’s operations in Darfur. “First of all, we were obliged to evacuate from a number of our projects, like in Serif Umra and Jebel Marra. And it is limiting our movement on the roads, which means limiting also our referral for medical emergency. We suspended also our mobile clinics for populations in isolated villages.”
El Zein could not give an exact figure as to how many people Doctors Without Borders cares for, but she says the group operates in 17 locations throughout Darfur.
She says, “We are seeing an escalation of incidents and what we are doing in our communication is calling on all the parties in the conflict to respect the medical assistance we are providing to these populations. Our worries are about being able to provide the medical assistance to these vulnerable populations. And as an independent, impartial organization working without any armed escort, we are asking to respect this medical assistance and provide security for our teams.”
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