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Sudan: Urgent response needed amid high death rates and malnutrition crisis in North Darfur

“There are many factors that have contributed to the high levels of malnutrition we are seeing. January is a time when malnutrition should be at its lowest, because December is when the harvest usually takes place, meaning that stocks of food should be at their highest,” says Nicolet. 

“But over the past year people have been unable to tend to their crops due to the insecurity, and on top of this, what little agricultural production that has been possible has been below average because of low rainfall.

“With the usual malnutrition peak yet to come – between April and September – we are expecting the already enormous number of cases we are seeing now to drastically increase over the coming months,” she says.

Prior to April 2023, the health system in North Darfur was supported by the UN agencies WFP, UNICEF, IOM, OCHA. This aid has now come to an abrupt halt, with road and air supply routes severely hampered.

Staff no longer receive salaries, equipment and medicines are in short supply, as are fuel for generators, water and other supplies that are needed to keep health facilities running. Malnutrition programmes that were once present in El Fasher – the state capital – are non-existent.

There is now nowhere in the city that people can go to for basic healthcare for their children. There is an urgent need for parties to the conflict to open the airport in El Fasher, and to ensure it remains accessible once operational, so that humanitarian actors can swiftly return and provide support to people not only in Zamzam camp, but across North Darfur.

We are currently the only large international organisation providing free paediatric medical care across all five Darfur states– a region the size of France. The paediatric hospital has a total of just 78 beds for a population of over 11 million people – it is not enough to respond to the scale of this disaster.

“Referrals for patients from Zamzam camp to the paediatric hospital in El Fasher happen on a daily basis to try and save children’s lives,” says Nicolet. “But we know from the mortality assessment that there are hundreds of children who do not even reach our clinic in the camp.

“It is possible to prevent the situation from deteriorating further through a massive mobilisation of the international community. We cannot sit by and let people continue to suffer in silence. The need for this scale-up is urgent – without it, the preventable deaths of even more children will occur.”

Fonte original msf.org

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