Conflict in Sudan: More people forced to flee to Chad as fighting intensifies across Darfur

Conflict in Sudan: More people forced to flee to Chad as fighting intensifies across Darfur

Conflict in Sudan: More people forced to flee to Chad as fighting intensifies across Darfur

Conflict in Sudan: More people forced to flee to Chad as fighting intensifies across Darfur

Following increased fighting in El Geneina in Sudan’s West Darfur, Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams operating across the border in eastern Chad have seen an immediate and major increase in the number of arriving in the region. 36 wounded people were received by MSF teams over the past weekend alone. Refugees coming from Sudan are mainly women and children, and recount stories of large-scale violence against civilians.

“In the first three days of November, we have seen more new arrivals of Sudanese refugees than during the whole previous month: about 7,000 people crossed the border,” explains Stephanie Hoffmann, MSF outreach coordinator in Adré, a Chadian city on the border with Sudan. “We have seen mothers and children who had to leave Sudan with nothing, as their homes were being destroyed.”

“Despite the collective efforts of local communities, authorities and humanitarian organisations, the humanitarian response doesn’t yet match the magnitude of the crisis in eastern Chad, which is also putting a strain on vulnerable host communities,” explains Claire Nicolet, head of MSF emergency response for Chad and Sudan. “Many people are living in makeshift camps where conditions remain dire. Meanwhile the latest increase in refugee arrivals is another indication that needs are continuing to grow and that the conflict fuelling them is far from over. We continue to call for an immediate scale-up of humanitarian aid to help the most vulnerable, both refugees and Chadians, and to ensure access to basic services such as water, healthcare, shelter and food.”

In a health post right at the border crossing in Adré, MSF teams provide medical services to the newly arrived refugees by vaccinating children against measles, screening for malnutrition, and referring those in need of urgent specialised healthcare directly to Adré hospital, where they are being treated by MSF and staff from the Chadian Ministry of Health.

A few hundred metres from the border crossing, refugees wait for new arrivals from Sudan, hoping to get news of their families. Often, they learn about the loss of their loved ones back home in Sudan. MSF teams now also offer mental health support to people in distress at the crossing and have installed a water tank to provide safe drinking water after the gruelling journey.

“Last night, my sister’s house was bombed,” describes Amne, 33, who crossed the border with her four children. “It was next to ours. Our house caught fire from the explosion, and we immediately got out. I do not know what happened to my sister, whether she survived or not.” She points to her dress, saying that it is the only possession she was able to bring with her.

At the MSF hospital in Adré, a 27-year-old man arrives. He fled El Geneina with sixteen other people, but their group was attacked on the road to Chad. He tells us that the attackers killed everyone else, but he survived by playing dead. Eventually a new group of refugees arrived and helped him reach the border. He has multiple bullet wounds on his hands and legs.

On Sunday, MSF donated 3.5 m3 of medical equipment to the emergency unit of the El Geneina Teaching Hospital. Already, these supplies have helped to treat 120 patients. The team has also made donations to three health centres on the road between El Geneina and Adré, providing kits to treat malaria, diarrhoea, and respiratory infections in both adults and children.

Since the war in Sudan started in April over six months ago, millions of people have been forced to flee, leaving behind their homes and livelihoods. While most are still in Sudan, an estimated 1.1 million people have crossed the border into neighbouring countries. The majority of these are now in Chad, a country already facing multiple humanitarian crises.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).