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Malnutrition And Risk Of Disease In Sudan's Darfur Region, Says Doctors Without Borders - 2004-03-11


In Sudan’s Darfur region, where government troops and militias are battling rebels, thousands of displaced people are trying to find safe haven. But as they gather in towns in large numbers, there’s evidence of growing malnutrition and risk of disease, especially measles.

Doctors Without Borders is one of the few humanitarian groups in the region. Ton Koene is the emergency relief coordinator for the Dutch branch of Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF. From Amsterdam, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the situation in Darfur, beginning with conditions in the town of Garsilla. He said the population there numbers around 100,000, of which 80,000 are believed displaced from other locations.

In all of Darfur, as many as 700,000 people may be displaced, according to the United Nations. Mr. Koene says during February Sudanese authorities refused them access to other areas and travel has also been limited by safety concerns. He said many humanitarian groups are doing assessments of the needs in Darfur, but the response has been inadequate, in part, due to government bureaucracy.

Across the border in eastern Chad, where over 100,000 Sudanese have fled, there are problems as well. As the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, slowly transports them to camps, militias cross the border and attack. Landmines are now being planted along the border between Chad and Sudan, which is nothing more than a dry riverbed.

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