– 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
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.