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‘More aid for new displaced from Darfur’s Jebel Marra’: OCHA

February 21 - 2016 KHARTOUM
Newly displaced camp near the Unamid team site in Sortony, North Darfur, 8 February 2016 (Zurab Elzarov/Unamid)
Newly displaced camp near the Unamid team site in Sortony, North Darfur, 8 February 2016 (Zurab Elzarov/Unamid)

By 14 February, the number of displaced from Jebel Marra seeking humanitarian assistance in North Darfur reached 39,000.

This is an increase of 2,000 compared to the previous week, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports in its latest weekly bulletin.

In Central Darfur, humanitarian organisations have been unable to verify reported civilian displacement or ascertain and respond to humanitarian needs.

In mid January, government forces started a major offensive on strongholds of the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) in Jebel Marra in central Darfur. About 73,000 fled their homes, OCHA said in a press statement on Wednesday.

Between 18 January and 13 February close to 39,000 people from Jebel Marra arrived in Tawila and Kabkabiya, and near the Unamid team site in Sortony in North Darfur.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) responsible for the registration of the newly displaced in Tawila and Sortony, confirmed 14,008 new displaced from Jebel Marra in Tawila by 14 February.

On 11 February, a 24-lorry UN aid convoy reached Sortony, and delivered food, shelter, medical and essential household supplies to the newly displaced in the area. Overall, food assistance for more than 38,000 new displaced in Sortony and Tawila has been delivered.

Food is being distributed among the new displaced by the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) and the national NGO Kabkabiya Small Holders Charitable Society (KSCS). UNHCR is distributing sets of essential household supplies for 4,500 families (about 22,500 people). In addition, two clinics have started providing primary health care services in Sortony. A fixed clinic is run jointly by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders-Spain (MSF-E) and the North Darfur Ministry of Health, and a mobile clinic is run by the Sudanese NGO Anhar, with support from Unicef.

Water shortage in Sortony

Access to adequate supplies of clean water and sanitation services remain the main challenge in Sortony, OCHA reports. While the number of new arrivals increased by about 1,600 compared to the previous week, the amount of water supplied remains at 92,000 litres per day. This translates into about four litres per person per day, which is well below the minimum standard of 7.5 litres, according to the Emergency Response Framework (ERF) 2015 standards for Sudan.

An inter-agency mission that visited Sortony in early February identified that the main prevalent diseases among the new displaced were respiratory tract infections (RTI), diarrhoea, malnutrition, skin diseases, and eye infections. It was observed that the main causes of morbidity were poor hygiene, water scarcity, and lack of latrines.

Tawila, Kabkabiya

In Tawilla, MSF-E has so far distributed essential household supplies to 2,300 out of the 3,645 families of newly displaced from Jebel Marra, with distributions ongoing.

The INGO is providing 140,000 litres of water for the new displaced, which is about 10 litres of water per person per day and above the recommended ERF 2015 standard of 7.5 litres per person per day for the first month of the response. ERF standard for the second and third months of response is 15 litres per person daily.

In addition, the government’s Water and Environmental Sanitation department (WES) rehabilitated an existing borehole in the area, which can supply between 40,000-50,000 litres of water daily. In terms of sanitation, MSF-E and Plan Sudan have so far constructed 53 temporary latrines out of the 230 planned.

According to ERF 2015 standards, one latrine needs to be constructed for every 50 newly displaced people. This translates into 285 latrines for the 14,242 new displaced. The construction of emergency latrines continues, but is slowed down by difficulties in digging due to the hard ground.

In Kabkabiya town, the number of displaced has increased by about 200 compared to the previous week. All displaced are living with extended family or the host community. WFP conducted a food needs assessment and is planning to distribute a two-month food ration to 1,227 people. In addition, Oxfam America identified 1,186 peoples who need essential household supplies and will provide them with those supplies shortly.

Central Darfur

Lack of clarity on the numbers of displaced and access challenges persist in Central Darfur, OCHA states. Aid organisations have been unable to verify reported displacement or ascertain and respond to humanitarian needs.

The most recent government figures indicate that about 1,000 people from Jebel Marra have arrived in Guldo and Tur, however, indications suggest that the numbers may be significantly higher. The UN is calling for a cessation of hostilities and is urging all parties to the conflict to allow humanitarian workers to reach the newly displaced in Central Darfur.

There are also reports that thousands might have fled the fighting deeper into the Jebel Marra massif, the OCHA bulletin reads. The UN has not yet been able to confirm these reported cases of displacement.

People who managed to descend Mount Marra reported to Radio dabnga that tens of thousands of people are trapped high in the mountain. They are sheltering under trees in valleys and in caves in dire humanitarian conditions. Aid organisations are not allowed to access these people because of the ongoing fighting in the area. 

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