Omda: ‘Humanitarian catastrophe looms for North Darfur displaced’

A woman next to her shelter and belongings in Zam Zam camp in North Darfur (File Photo: Albert González Farran / UNAMID)

EL FASHER –


The humanitarian situation in Zamzam camp, one of the largest camps for the displaced in Darfur, has become extremely dire, according to community leaders. A poor harvest in 2022 has reportedly forced children to beg for food in the streets, while a scarcity of medicines is allowing malaria and other diseases to run rampant.

Zamzam camp, located 15 km south of the North Darfur capital El Fasher, was set up when the Darfur conflict broke out in 2003, and after two decades, accommodates at least 200,000 displaced people.

Camp community leader, Omda Jamal Abdelkarim, told Radio Dabanga that “the conditions in the camp are approaching a humanitarian catastrophe”. He laments the deteriorating health and humanitarian conditions, the spread of malaria and other diseases and fevers among children, and the scarcity of medicines in the camp which has led to people resorting to traditional medicines.

‘Children begging in the neighbourhoods in search of a living…’

Omda Abdelkarim voiced his grave concern that the poor harvest of 2022 has exacerbated acute food insecurity. He says that during the crucial rainy season, when many of the displaced cultivate crops near to the camp or in their traditional areas, “repeated incursions as armed herders drove their livestock to graze on farms led to the destruction of the crops this season, which in turn led to children begging in the neighbourhoods in search of a living”.

Abdelkarim appealed to international and national relief organisations to provide food and medicines to the camp.

Insecurity

In September 2022, activist leaders and residents of Zamzam camp staged a 17-day protest sit-in, which blocked the road linking El Fasher with the South Darfur capital of Nyala, because of the continuing attacks of gunmen on the displaced when they leave the camp, and the lack of basic services in the camp.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA) in Sudan projects in a report in the last quarter of 2022 that about 11 million people will need emergency assistance to meet life-threatening needs related to critical physical and mental health in 2023 – an increase of 21 per cent compared to 2022.

The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan will rise to 15.8 million next year, equivalent to about a third of the population, which represents an increase of 1.5 million over this year, the OCHA reports states.

In June 2022, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the number of food insecure people in Sudan may ‘dramatically increase‘ to unprecedented levels and that the “already alarming food security situation is likely to worsen throughout the lean season in Sudan, predicting that by September 2022, up to 40 per cent of Sudanese could have slipped into food insecurity, the WFP and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) warned.