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USA calls on Sudan to renew work permits for UNHCR staff

The USA has added its voice to that to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in urging Khartoum to reconsider the expulsion of the agency’s El Fasher staff.

In a press statement on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the US Department of State, Jen Psaki, called on the Government of Sudan “to immediately renew the necessary work permits for 20 UNHCR international staff providing humanitarian assistance and protection to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur.

“The failure to renew UNHCR staff permits is particularly unfortunate, as it comes in the context of deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur and the forcible displacement of over 300,000 persons this year – more than the total number of displaced persons in Darfur over the past two years. This will affect UNHCR’s ability to conduct its critical, lifesaving programs in several sectors including health, emergency shelter and provision of non-food items,” Psaki states.

“This recent tightening of restrictions on humanitarian actors in Darfur, including UN agencies and NGOs, raises serious concerns about the Government of Sudan’s willingness to uphold the promises it made in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, and raises questions regarding the viability of this peace accord. We call on the Sudanese Government and all rebel groups to engage without preconditions in an effective and inclusive political process to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We call on the Government of Sudan to allow UNHCR and all humanitarian actors unfettered humanitarian access to all parts of Darfur to protect and to assist the victims of the conflict and to support the implementation of the peace agreements. The people of Darfur deserve peace and stability now,” the statement concludes.

Reports from Chad

In reports reaching Radio Dabanga from eastern Chad, the Sudanese refugees have expressed sadness at not being able to celebrate the upcoming Eid Al Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, due to the poor economic conditions. They are destitute and market prices have soared.

A sheikh of camp Toulom, Haider Suleiman Gardia, has reported to Radio Dabanga that while Eid Al Fitr is meant to be a religious festival for delight, this year’s Eid is the worst for the refugees. He said that the high cost of living, prices rising, food shortages and lack of income sources mean the refugees could not afford to buy sweets and clothes for their children and families.

The sheikh of camp Kounoungo, Issa El Tijani has similarly reported to Radio Dabanga that Eid Al Fitr of this year is different from all the past festivals because of the economic and humanitarian conditions facing the refugees.

He said that the humanitarian organisations’ reduction of food rations left the refugees facing an inevitable famine due to the failure of the current planting season. Sheikh El Tijani added that the refugees used to receive some assistance from their relatives in Sudan, however their relatives themselves are now in need of assistance due to the deteriorating economic situation there.

The sheikh expressed hope that peace would prevail in the country so that they could return to their homes and farms.

File photo: UNHCR staff meet Darfuri refugees in Chad in April (M Antoine/UNHCR)


Darfur relief operations hampered as 20 UNHCR staff expelled (6 August 2013)

‘Five million people displaced in Sudan in 2012’: UNHCR report (20 June 2013)

UNHCR ‘completes move of Darfuris from Chad border’ (14 June 2013)

Article source:

MSF Survey: ‘Gunfire main cause of death for those fleeing Darfur’

The majority of people who died while fleeing Central Darfur, Sudan, earlier in the year perished as a result of violence, and mostly by gunfire, according to a retrospective mortality survey released on Tuesday by the international medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

“Between January and May 2013, tens of thousands of Darfuri refugees and Chadians fled Darfur and sought refuge in the Tissi area of neighbouring Chad. The survey, carried out by MSF’s epidemiological research division, Epicentre, reveals that 119 of the 194 deaths (61 percent) reported by family members were caused by violence. 111 people, or 93 per cent, died from gunshot wounds linked to specific episodes of violence preceding the two major waves of displacement, one in early February and one in early April. The people shot to death died in Darfur. Survivors reported mass shootings and the burning and looting of villages,” the report states.

“This survey confirms that violence in Darfur is indeed the major cause of mortality,” said Delphine Chedorge, MSF emergency coordinator.

“In an effort to understand whether people died from violence in Darfur or a lack of aid once reaching Chad, Epicentre gathered information in the Haraza and Tissi settlements in Chad in mid-May. More than 15,000 people across 2,658 households were surveyed. The survey was evenly divided between Darfurian refugees and Chadians who had returned to their country.

“The majority of refugees interviewed by MSF in Tissi came from Abugaradil, a village in Darfur. They reported 71 violent deaths when the village was attacked between 2 and 9 April.

“I was in Abugaradil when I saw vehicles entering,” said a 33-year-old refugee who arrived in Tissi in April. “I was hit by a stray bullet that entered my right arm. Many villagers were killed. My brothers put me in a cart and carried me for one and a half hours to reach the hospital in Tissi.”

In the past week, MSF teams in Tissi have treated 30 people injured in Darfur, 13 of whom suffered gunshot wounds and were evacuated to the nearby town of Abeche for emergency surgery. It is the largest wave of wounded MSF has seen in the last two months.

MSF first received reports of displacements in early March while conducting a yellow fever vaccination campaign in Chad’s Goz Beida district. A few weeks later, MSF began providing emergency medical care, shelter materials, clean water, and hygiene items to the refugees and returnees in the Tissi area. From June to September, rains isolate most of Tissi and aid operations will have to be scaled down. An MSF team has nevertheless remained in Tissi town and continues to receive and treat patients.

The report ends my highlighting that MSF has worked in Chad for more than 30 years, and also runs regular projects in Abeche, Massakory, Am Timan, and Moïssala.

File photo: A doctor from Médecins Sans Frontières examines a child in Chad for malnutrition (Catherine Robinson/MSF)


Darfur violence puts pressure on MSF in Chad (6 August 2013)

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Darfur violence puts pressure on MSF in Chad

The recent renewed violence in Darfur’s border region with Chad, has seen an increasing number of Darfuris seeking medical assistance across the border, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reports.

“In the past week, MSF teams have treated 30 new injured patients, 13 of whom suffered from gunshot wounds, and were evacuated to the nearby town of Abeche for emergency surgery. It is the largest wave of wounded MSF has seen in the last two months,” according to a MSF report.

“In April, MSF opened an emergency project in Tissi, in south-eastern Chad, to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to Sudanese refugees and Chadian returnees affected by the fighting in Darfur. The humanitarian crisis is a direct result of the deteriorating security situation in some areas of Central Darfur, which has displaced an estimated 50,000 people to Chad since the beginning of the year,” the report states.

“In the past three months MSF has treated more than 80 patients for gunshot wounds. The level of violence is extremely concerning and our team is frequently working around the clock to stabilise and refer patients with severe injuries,” says Jason Mills, MSF Head of Mission in Chad.

MSF is running a health facility in the town of Tissi, where, in addition to the wounded, more than 3,500 people have been treated for ailments such as diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections and malnutrition.

Rainy season

Because of the onset of the rainy season, MSF is also worried about the approaching malaria season. “MSF is now holding malaria prevention sessions for local residents, and with the help of a network of community health workers, is monitoring the general health situation for the local population in Tissi town, as well as returnees who have settled in surrounding villages,” the report states.

“A second MSF team is now providing primary health care in the Ab Gadam refugee camp, 20 kilometres west of Tissi, where 17,000 refugees have been relocated by the UNHCR.”

According to the report, MSF will open an in-patient department in early August, to provide secondary healthcare in the camp for the next two months.

“Due to the rain, poor road conditions have made it difficult for water trucks to reach the Ab Gadam camp, leaving refugees with little or no potable water. In mid-July the situation reached a crisis point when the amount of water available dropped below one litre, per person, per day, well below the humanitarian standard of 20 litres per person, per day.

“On 21 July, the MSF team was able to rehabilitate a dam close to the camp and distribute 200,000 litres in the following three days, raising the quantity of water to seven litres, per person, per day by 23 July.”

“MSF is expending considerable effort to improve the water supply in the camp, and to build latrines in order to prevent outbreaks of cholera and hepatitis-E,” says Turid Piening, MSF Health Advisor for Chad, adding that despite the logistical challenges, MSF plans to continue its emergency response in the Tissi area at least until the end of the rainy season in October.

Drinking water

The Sudanese refugees of camp Gaga in eastern Chad have confirmed to Radio Dabanga that there is an ongoing shortage of clean drinking water.

Sheikh Yassin Abdel Karim reported to our station that the water pumps of the camp have not been operating for a month. He said that he has filed “multiple complaints to the UNHCR, who promised to solve the problem within a week, however nothing’s been done so far although three weeks has now passed.

Sheikh Karim added that the refugees were forced to fetch drinking water from a valley; which increased the suffering of women and the elderly, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

“The valley is located a far distance from the camp, and the valley water is not safe for drinking,” he said repeating his appeal for the UNHCR to expedite the solution of the water crisis in the camp.

File photo: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)


‘Conditions remain unacceptable for Darfuri refugees in Chad’: MSF (25 June 2013)

Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad lack shelter, safe drinking water (30 May 2013)

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