Sudanese refugees in Adré Chad on June 18, 2023 (Chadian presidency photo)
There is a major increase in the number of people arriving in eastern Chad following increased fighting in El Geneina in Sudan’s West Darfur, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said in a statement.
36 wounded people, it stated, were received over the past weekend alone.
According to the medical charity, the 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,” said Stephanie Hoffmann, MSF outreach coordinator in Adré.
He added, “We have seen mothers and children who had to leave Sudan with nothing, as their homes were being destroyed.”
MSF teams are providing medical services to the newly arrived refugees by vaccinating children against measles, screening for malnutrition, and referring those in need of urgent specialized healthcare directly to Adré hospital, where they are being treated by MSF and staff from the Chadian Ministry of Health.
Also on offer is mental health support to people in distress at the crossing and a water tank installed to provide safe drinking water after the grueling journey.
In the statement, MSF further provided horrifying testimonies from various people who fled the conflict in Sudan into neighbouring Chad in recent months.
“El Geneina experienced a nightmarish escalation of violence last June, and it pushed a large proportion of the city’s inhabitants to flee to Chad, despite the many dangers and attacks that awaited them on the road. The city then experienced a relative lull and even hosted displaced people from other locations,” says Alkassoum Abdourahamane, MSF project coordinator for El Geneina, adding “Now, the blasts and the fear have once again taken over.”
MSF said it donated 3.5 m3 of medical equipment to the emergency unit of the El Geneina Teaching Hospital of which supplies have helped to treat 120 patients.
The stories of the latest arrivals echo those of the massive numbers of refugees who reached Adré in June, when the population of the small town tripled, it said.
“Despite the collective efforts of local communities, authorities and humanitarian organizations, 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.
She added, “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.”
Since the onset of its emergency response in eastern Chad, MSF has reportedly provided over 96,000 consultations, hospitalized 8,492 patients, treated 7,155 for malnutrition and 31,955 for malaria, performed 1,634 surgeries and assisted in 1,043 deliveries.
Since the war in Sudan started in mid-April, millions of people have been forced to flee the country, 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.
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