The Medical Charity (MSF) or Doctors without Borders on Monday said about thirteen children are dying each day of severe malnutrition at the Zamzam camp in Sudan’s northern Darfur as a consequence of the 10-month war in their country.
The head of the U.N. refugee agency, however, warned that Europe may have to deal with a rise in the numbers of Sudanese refugees if a cease-fire agreement isn’t signed soon between Sudan’s warring sides and relief efforts aren’t strengthened.
One child is dying every two hours in the camp, according to Claire Nicolet, head of emergency response in Sudan for Doctors without Borders, or MSF.
“Those with severe malnutrition who have not yet died are at high risk of dying within three to six weeks if they do not get treatment,” Nicolet said.
MSF says that Zamzam, a camp of more than 300,000 people, was originally formed by people fleeing ethnically targeted violence in the region in 2003. However, since war broke out between Sudan’s military and paramilitary forces in April 2023, camp residents have been cut off from vital humanitarian aid and medical care, the group said in a statement.
U.N. agencies and international aid organizations evacuated North Darfur after the war began in April, and have maintained only a limited presence since then, MSF said.
“Now, they have been almost completely abandoned. There have been no food distributions from the World Food Program since May. People are going hungry — and children are dying as a result,” Nicolet said.
MSF said that it would rapidly increase the scale of assistance at the camp to provide treatment for children in the most critical condition. However, the scale of the disaster requires a far greater response than MSF can provide alone, the group said.
The head of the U.N. refugee agency said that without additional support, refugees from Sudan will attempt to make their way to Europe.
“The Europeans are always so worried about people coming across the Mediterranean. Well, I have a warning for them that if they don’t support more refugees coming out of Sudan, even displaced people inside Sudan, we will see onward movements of people towards Libya, Tunisia and across the Mediterranean,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said. “There is no doubt.”
More than 9 million people are thought to be internally displaced in Sudan, and 1.5 million refugees have fled into neighbouring countries in 10 months of clashes between the Sudanese military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful paramilitary group commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.