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Doctors Without Borders Treats More Than 60 Wounded at Kalma Camp in Darfur


– Monday, Sudanese soldiers, reportedly looking for smuggled weapons, attacked a camp for the displaced in the Darfur region. The attack left a number of dead and wounded. The Kalma camp is home to over 90,000 people and is described as one of the largest camps for the displaced in the region.

The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders was working there during the attack and treated many of the wounded.

Vanessa Van Schoor is the group's operations manager for Darfur. From Amsterdam, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about what happened at Kalma.

"Early in the morning (Monday) we started getting reports from our staff who live in the camp that armed vehicles were coming to the edges of the camp on different sides. Then, at about 9:15 in the morning, they called us to say they could hear heavy shooting and we started receiving casualties in our clinic. So by the end of the day, we had 65 people with gunshot wounds in our clinic," she says.

After the attack, the aid group, also known as MSF, sought better care for some of the wounded than the clinic could provide. Van Schoor says," We spent a large portion of yesterday negotiating at the checkpoints to be able to go into the camp to our clinic and evacuate the most serious patients. So we brought out 49 wounded. We have four patients who did die in the clinic before we were able to give them additional assistance. There's a second clinic run by another organization that also had wounded. We managed to get them out to the main teaching hospital in Nyala (capital of South Darfur State)."

MSF staffers spent part of Tuesday negotiating again at the checkpoints to return to the clinic in Kalma and bring out more of the wounded.

Doctors Without Borders has been working in the Kalma camp since 2004, about the time it opened. Schoor says tensions have been rising in the camp.

"Recently there was flooding in the camp that destroyed about 6,000 shelters. So, we've got already a number of people who are struggling to try and find some sort of cover there, while still holding onto the land that they have. We've also been having difficulties getting fuel into the camp to be able to run the water pumps. So the queues of people lining up has been high. And then a couple of weeks ago, there was a raid on the camp where the government claims to have found weapons. So we can sort of see where the tension is coming from the government wanting to try and have a look at the security of the camp. But what happened yesterday was without any notice," she says.
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