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Darfur: Thousands Displaced in North by Two Months of Fighting

  • Joe DeCapua

In Sudan’s North Darfur State, fighting between government forces and rebels have displaced thousands of people.

The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says fighting began two months ago, forcing people to flee to camps in Shangil Tobaya, Tabit and Dar Alsalam. It describes conditions in those camps as “precarious.”

Cristina Falconi, MSF head of mission in Sudan, has just returned to Khartoum after spending several weeks in Darfur.

Darfur: Thousands Displaced in North by Two Months of Fighting

Darfur: Thousands Displaced in North by Two Months of Fighting

“(The) MSF team on the ground in Shangil Tobaya has had to move out from the MOH (Ministry of Health) facility. Right now we are running the medical activity inside one of the camps in Shangil Tobaya,” she says.

Over the past 10 days, Falconi says fighting has centered near Tabit.

“That created new IDPs (internally displaced persons), new arrivals, in the area of Shangil Tobaya.”

While the medical group says thousands have been displaced, it doesn’t have an exact figure yet.

“The total number is quite difficult to say at the moment. What we see is an increase of IDPs at the beginning of the fighting. Soon after, there was an estimated 7,000 who moved out from Shangil Tobaya in the direction of the camp… The counting of the new arrivals is still ongoing,” she says.

Left in a hurry

Falconi says, “The people are coming without anything, just a few clothes, a few personal items. So they need shelter. They need basic non-food items because they’re just running away from the place where the fighting is ongoing.”

MSF is also providing high energy biscuits for one thousand children, along with medical care. So far, there are no major disease outbreaks, but the group is carrying out vaccination programs as a precaution.

“We are closely monitoring the health situation in order to prevent and respond sooner in case of any outbreaks,” she says.

South Darfur State

In early December, fighting in South Darfur State also displaced thousands of people in Shaeria.

“They moved in the direction of Shangil Tobaya, the direction of el Fasher (capital of North Darfur). Most of them are still out of their villages. So other agencies are also providing some support, some humanitarian response,” she says.

Doctors Without Borders still has a presence in Shaeria, where it’s currently assessing the medical needs of the people.

The medical aid group has been working in Darfur since 1979, long before the violence claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions. It also operates in other parts of Sudan.